Reaching out for something to hold / Looking for a love where the climate is cold

Today while sewing the Project of Ravelling Fabric Fuckery I had the pleasure of my husband’s laptop and a Rhapsody station. During the first half I elected listening to Hall & Oates. I should probably confess I have this deep and secret fantasy where my brother and I dress as the duo for Halloween (I’m telling you, the resemblance is already halfway there). Included in this little fantasy is also the fact we’d be performing some of their songs, I’m not sure how or in what venue, and this really makes little sense because I’m not sure either my brother nor I can sing, especially not at the levels of prowess this “blue-eyed soul” (Rhapsody genre names are fun!) pair evidences. Oh and my brother probably wouldn’t do this, ever. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

(Until today I’d misheard the line as “broken eyes still melt in the sun”, a gruesome image from my childhood, and P.S. I sincerely want that fashion for myself!)

More goodness, and I love how Oates is just kind of lurking back there:

(Two points: Oates’ MAGIC EYE BLINKS at 1:30 et al are awesome; secondly my sister is an actual private eye, which is obviously quite relevant, although as young ones we dressed up as Boy George (her) and Blondie (me), and Yes I’ll dig up a picture soon!)

Another one from my childhood. Even today this song strikes me as deeply moving but also very corny. I guess I really like that combo. Plus it reminds me of that time I went to that strip club with the pre-tornado Kansas wheat field theme:

(Embedding was disabled but you can view the video I remember – a better one – here.)

Video exposure to Tina Turner and Chaka Khan in the 80s was the first time I remember having the distinct pre-pubescent knowledge of a beauty I could never have. No jealousy or envy or confusion; I was unabashedly enamored with and amazed by their presence, their embodiment of Diva (although I didn’t know that word yet). I can still remember exactly where I was sitting and at what house I first saw the latter’s video for “I Feel For You” (I couldn’t find this video but I did have a great YouTube surf looking for it). I like feeling like a kid again every now and then.

Reliving this hit made me titter at my sewing machine. Probably because of the Scary Movie send-up, but the video itself is not without a giggle… Especially because the lyrics also sounded so inappropriately stalky and the video apparently decided to go with that:

(OK, a rather beautiful song but still. Phone calls like that? Don’t do ’em. Also: blind girls. EXTRA-SMILEY, virginal, passive and adorable – and far easier to stealthily follow!)

More Lionel Ritchie, but my point is I had the hots for Mikhail Baryshnikov when White Nights came out. I don’t remember anything about the film at all. Except Baryshnikov’s pants. Look, I was about eight. I still really like to watch men dance well.

In other news this performance came through the tweetstream today. Seriously, every time I watch Freddie Mercury live I feel so sad, joyful, fierce, weepy, amazed, enthralled:

OK, now don’t stay up all night practicing your white-guy hopping-and-bobbing-around dance movies!

something needs to be done he said, as he looked about angrily

Today it’s caught up to me again, this ugly malaise, despite a day where a fair amount got accomplished and the sun shone (which always helps me); I had the honor to host a few extra kids in and out during the day and then watch my daughter play soccer while basting zippers into a particularly lovely sewing creation I’m now almost finished with. My husband had a hard day at work but he had a good time talking to me about it. He leaned against the fence and looked handsome but tired and Nels climbed all over him loving him up. Ralph and I approach our ninth marriage anniversary (one week from today) and are in the thick of our thirteenth year together. Our companionship and sense of humor and sense of purpose and connection and our love for our kids – there is so much goodness between us even though when we fight it is very ugly indeed.

Ralph and I don’t fight today, and the kids and I don’t fight, but something hurts and someting feels off. Little disappointments trickle in: a fabric delivery that will be late; late enough I have to push back a deadline perhaps – to talk to my client or hope for the best? Two packages I sent out got returned and needed to be re-delivered; my fault, I didn’t double-check addresses (Even then though, not all has been glum today as something wonderful arrived via post today which I will be sharing about shortly!). The house seems dirty and I lack the energy to clean (this is very rare). The washing machine still sits broken, half full of water which I need to do something about. My clothes are threadbare and our towels too, and I know I’ll prioritize Ralph’s workpants and towels over my own fare, and that’s fine but I hate it when it seems “everything” is wearing out at once (an illusion, I tell myself).

I deliver pickles about the neighborhood to stave off the gloom, pickles to neighbors and acquaintances, hoping to spread good cheer, I swear food helps people, I was sad last night my slow-cooked lovely fare was not eaten by my rather frail grandfather who is visiting, I remember the panic I felt two years ago when I could no longer cook for my dad because he no longer ate, the pain of not being able to gift this thing. So: pickles. If I can’t find the root of my odd feelings at least I can bestow kindness, something small but colorful and beautiful and zing! flavor.

My mother and I trade phone calls and favors and she takes the little ones out for a burger. Upon their return Phoenix’s soccer-mate I. comes over for a few hours and the girls enjoy the kitties and the chickens; neighborhood boys come and go to get an education on Nels’ impressive PvZ skills. For a boy so intent on and in love with the game he is most lovingly generous at showing other children the works, allowing them use of his netbook and his strategies, exhibiting none of the dull-eyed and single-syllable gruntings one might think would be the result of such saturation.

So the children at least live freely and happily. It would seem the neighborhood gang is attempting to suck the last few days out of their summer (school starts next Tuesday for Hoquiam kids); there is an air of desperation as they get up to malarkey (two older boys were BB-gunning the chickens today – tells me pop-eyed J. when I get home) and run about shouting and ride their bikes in circles long after the customary neighborhood sunset curfew.

Tonight I turn off the sewing machine and close up “shop” and check my salt brine crock (looking good and smelling lovely), wash my hands and sit at the table with my family and the lovely fare my husband has prepared. I’m tired, which makes no sense, but there it is.

Perhaps tomorrow things will be better.

este día en la carretera hace mucho calor

Nels is looking different today from yesterday as about thirty minutes into our biking adventures he biked right into a car (while vying for the attention of children outside in a daycare yard). The daycare employee who witnessed this (I only heard the thunk! behind me) ran inside to get Nels first an icepack then an Otter Pop for good measure. She was a beautiful, beautiful girl with deep tanned cleavage and long shiny black-brown hair and I’ll bet she even smelled nice (I didn’t lean in to check) and with her sympathy and the ice pack and the ice cream, well, Nels didn’t seem to mind being hurt so much. My son spent the next half hour wearing the pack, and as a result his black eye is slightly less gruesome than it otherwise might have been.

Ice Pack

Today started out with our typical feral rituals: the kids went outside and ate (for breakfast) marshmallows, bananas, and special dark chocolate. In the yard, half clothed. By then I’d finished my morning writings (here’s some of that) and housework so I asked them inside where they each took a big drink of milk before we biked our errands, ending up at the Central Playfield park where now no longer do we have shade-trees (cut down by the City) so the sun bakes us all and the adults who wish to talk have to shout over the sound of two highways (the trees helped absorb that too). The bathrooms are also closed down as well (Honey Buckets in the summer sun, kids – and grownups – love that sort of thing) but the pool is open from noon for a few hours and the kids? They love it. My kids were in their underwear as I hadn’t brought the suits. You know, I don’t often use the term “ghetto” but, well.

Suits Not Required

Central Playfield in Hoquiam

I ended up scrunching under a pitiful amount of briefly-supplied tent shade and talked to a father there with four of his seven kids, a handsome, deep brownish/red-skinned man who could balance with me on the proverbial non-native language teeter totter, meaning he had about as much inglés as I have español (the vast majority of native-Spanish-speakers here usually have very good English although I do meet those que no entienden). One example: he told me he and his wife were “broke” so I asked ¿Tienes el trabajo? then he managed to convey he meant, he and his wife were broke from relationship with one another and I said “Oh! Divorced. Separated. I thought you meant no tienes dinero.” Then after we’d shared where we lived and how long we’d lived there I told him, “Mi esposo trabaja en el colegio” in case he got some ideas I was a scheming single mama looking to juggle a family of nine kiddos (instead I’m rather a scheming conversationalist who loves talking to strangers like a Huge Nerd) or in case he had similar ideas (seriously? A mama out with kids in Grays Harbor is not immune from flirtations from random strangers). He had the most beautiful one year old clambering around on him, a boy with shoulder-length locks and deliciously plump limbs who took interest in my bike wheels. “Fue agradable hablar con usted,” I said to this father as we biked out, my kids soaked and newly cooled down and me as hot as ever as we headed to our little grocery store for dinner provisions.

It’s no wonder to me my kids are getting a great education as letting them out and running and biking and playing and eating and drinking means when we get home they absolutely want to read an encyclopedia or give themselves spelling/English work or learn times tables or teach themselves history (or even clean their room, as my daughter is doing at this moment). And another thing, I never hear my kids say they are “bored” – ever, which is something to ponder given we have no television or video game system! (In full disclosure, we do have a computer which they are allowed to use if I am not using it). (Also, now that I have had the hubris to even slightly brag or more accurately, take joy in a facet of our little fringe lifestyle, the children are going to immediately come inside and chant in demon-voice how bored they are).

Tomorrow our day will consist of 100% beach time out in Ocean Shores with my mother and a picnic basket and sunscreen. And that’s going to be pretty goddamned awesome.

As I type the kids run off with the various and sundry neighbors catching the ice cream truck (the frosty treat-bait has caught some full-grown, some still children); my husband on his way home is picking up fresh mozzarella for insalata caprese and tahini for tomorrow’s hummus and also – very important – a pool for our front yard. Because like many PNw’ers we don’t have air conditioning and employ the strategies of lowered blinds and open windows or fresh cooling water.

Phoenix Attempts To Rejoin Her Mistress, The Sea

obsessions, a coda

After watching the fun but lightweight film Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief I was rather humbled by the fact my daughter knew so much more Greek mythology than I (I also laughed MUCHLY at the kind of erotic overtones of Pierece Brosnan playing a centaur, ladies you know what I’m saying?). I’d been prepared to put the film behind us but my brother’s lady J. suggested we look into the book series. I checked out the first from the library (same-day service, thank you Lisa!) and told my daughter I could read it to her. She immediately cracked it and stuck it in her face and didn’t look up until she’d finished it including not even letting me borrow it for one second to see if I’d like reading it, too.

See?

Phoenix & Percy

This was Phoenix, for the twelve hours after the book got into her little hands. When she woke the next morning she got right back to it until she finished it (note: she is simultaneously reading while removing a kitten from her neck):

Phoenix Continues Reading

I was a voracious reader myself as a girl; although I don’t remember getting my hrrdcore Book Nrrd chops until age 10. Phoenix outstrips me easily.

spaceship earth, circa 1983

In part in response to my previous post, a friend sent me “The Bitter Homeschooler’s Wishlist” from secular-homeschooling.com.  I must admit I laughed a bit (although in general I do not consider it a part of my mission to spread snark) which was then replaced by fervent noddings at numbers 21, 22, and 23. In reading this I also felt quite grateful to be surrounded by friends and family who are generally supportive and don’t say too many silly things regarding my kids’ exemption from school.

Oh and:

From the archives: I grew up in a bus.  I used to call myself “So Cal hippie trash” before I decided I should not use the word “trash” to refer to anyone, my own roots notwithstanding.  My parents smoked pot and sort of parented all groovy (which means: assily), but they fed us and loved us pretty good.  So here I am, rockin’ the raspberry beret and breaking the hearts of my brother and some other boy we met at Yosemite Park.

El Autobús Mágico

It’s hard to see, but beneath the white wave-like motif on this bewheemoth drift the words “Inner Space”; this must be before my mom added planets as well.  Yes, that is a real wooden door with stained glass (my mom handcrafted that too).  Click on the photo if you’d like to read a bit more about our exodus from sunny CA to rainy WA.

ETA: Ralph told me this post made me sound like a hippie who was kind of proud of being a hippie.  I pulled out my cloth menstrual pad and slapped him across the face. And then I went and ate some bark, or something.

in which i introduce my first EXTENSIVE DRAMATIC CAPS LOCK USAGE

I was thinking a lot about my kids today.  I let them do most of the chores needed to get ready for our weekend.  This meant instead of me feeling stressed out and hustling my sweet ass on tons of work while the kids aimlessly tore through the house playing, we all pitched in – and I even got to play a bit myself afterward (sewinz).  Together the kids and I cleaned the bathroom, the front porch, the guest rooms, and the kitchen; Sophie, as per usual, did laundry, and Nels vacuumed the living room (for about an hour – he likes to do the whole floor with the long, skinny attachment).  Later in the day we ran to the grocery store real quick-like in between errands and getting Sophie to swim team practice.  My kids darted through the grocery store and I observed and was once again impressed with their boundless energy. It seems ideal for them to have some real work during the day and then get to do whatever else they want to do – within reason – and most of all, be allowed to run, run, run.

And speaking of that: in the parking lot as I put the groceries in the backseat my five year old somehow – like the T-1000 – vaulted up on the back trunk of my car and ran up the canopy, down the windshield, and back to the trunk. He might have done it about eight times as I opened the driver’s-side back door and closed it again, he was moving so fast. Keep in mind, I don’t mind this “abuse” of our car at all.  Probably persons shouldn’t run on windshields, I think (I will have to look into that), but otherwise I was rather impressed with his athleticism and coordination.  My good mood was cut short, abruptly, as I looked up and saw not one, but at least two parties including three people giving my son THE GLARE.  Big, sour-faced, head-shaking stink-eye.  And here I’d been expecting smiles!  Silly me.

OH EXCUSE ME DO YOU NOT LIKE MY KID RUNNING ON TOP OF – WAIT, WHOSE CAR IS THIS / OH YEAH, IT’S MINE!

AND WHOSE BUSINESS IS THIS?  OH I FORGOT NOT YOURS SO ARSE OFF

It’s kind of crazy just how extensive the cultural expectations are that kids are not allowed to do this, that, this and that – usually things they know full well they can handle and there is no good reason not to allow them to do so.  Often things adults no longer have the desire or balls to try themselves (and this is kind of sad in and of itself).  It’s a separate kind of crazy that most people I know pretty steadily participate in this kind of suppression without much of a thought.  And it’s my unique brand of Kelly-fail that for many years I assumed there was a reason my kid was not allowed to pick up something in the shop, or run along the sidewalk, or speak up in a mixed group, or whatever thing [everyone else is allowed to do yet] they roundly get public disfavor for doing – I more often than not defaulted there was a reason my child wasn’t allowed to walk barefoot in town or pick up a lightbulb in the hardware store or as in this case climb on top of their own family car.

And now I’m seeing that the sort of objections that are cited as “safety” objections (like some apologists in response to this little story) have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with, if I may take a guess, fear and resentment. Yes, fear when beholding the nature of a child – a nature open, and daring, and able to accurately and often loudly voice feelings, and almost always completely aware of their own limitations and completely aware of the risks they run.  How is it a creature is allowed to have such boundless energy and at any moment see material objects differently than the way everyone else (besides those brilliantly gifted) sees them?  Because, see, this is where the resentment comes in – deep-seated resentment. Resentment because that’s just Not The Way Things Are Done and if we were all allowed to jump on top of our own car, well…  some kind of Bad Thing would happen.

It makes me sad, really.  It makes me sad I am 32 years old and just now seeing through the eyes of a child – and there is much we adults could learn from this view.  It’s my thought that all adults – not just parents – would do well to examine the squelching they received as children, to mourn this unnecessary and sad series of events, leave it behind forever, and to spend more time with children – advocating for the children themselves and re-learning their own authentic natures.  I have no doubt we could all reclaim some of the joy, energy, and wonder that our young ones so effortlessly exhibit (until we vigorously and with small or large abuses train it out of them as much as possible). I know that for me I have benefited in many ways by being brave enough to believe in my kids.

Later, on our way to our film, Sophie rides ahead on her bike and Nels runs, as swiftly as he can, along the sidewalk.  They stop at road-crossings and wait for my friend Cynthia and I to catch up.  Nels’ breakneck speed on the sidewalks unnerves me.  But when examined I find my feelings are not because I fear an injury to him – he runs full-tilt as much as possible, despite banged-up knees and spilled ice cream and all the accidents running has afforded him in his young life.  No: I’m afraid, I’m tense, because I know I myself could not today, at 32, run that fast in the gloaming; I watch his fierce, brave, strong little body and I feel it as my own – yet with my adult fears and limitations. I am astounded by him, and surprised at myself. Maybe some day I’ll join him in the run.

the hefty dose of ROCK helps the nostalgia a bit

Last night my girlfriend Jennifer took me on a date that was twenty years overdue.

I remember the first time I heard a Def Leppard song.  I was 11 and with friends at the Harborena, our little roller skating rink here in Hoquiam home to a hive of villianous packs of eleven-year old boys who will hate-cut you, so watch out.  The crunchy guitar and reverby bombastic drums intro of “Pour Some Sugar On Me”* during All-Skate held me entranced. And the song just got better as I listened, smutty lyrics and all.  I couldn’t really believe how much I liked what I was hearing.  And I had to hear more.

My then-best girl Jen and I went on to become Def Leppard fans.  I mean, really big fans.  I wore their band shirts every day I could and at age 12 dyed my hair black. My bedroom held all the band posters I could find.  At Jen’s house we watched VH-1, MTV, the rock biopics you could get at the record stores (remember those stores? they sold tapes and CDs and stuff). We sang together, the same songs, over and over – we lip-synced them on top of her windowseat in the little bedroom of the house on Karr Street.  While other girls my age were stalking NKOTB I was delightedly bouncing on the couch belting out the impossible rock-screech falsetto notes in “Photograph” and it must be said, about a thousand-percent in crush with Joe Elliot, the lead singer who sounded American enough but in interviews and a few lines of his music revealed his meltingly-cute Sheffield accent. And it wasn’t just that I felt like I was in love with the singer of a rock band.  I wanted to be in a rock band.  I wanted to be able to belt out that music, bending backwards with a fist pumped in the air, wearing tight jeans and a long fierce mullet.  I really did.**

Last night for the first time ever Jen and I finally saw the group live at the White River Ampitheater (a pleasant enough locale – but I can’t recommend it since it had terrible acoustics). Jen and I spent a wonderful few hours together. We don’t talk about rock and roll videos any more; we talk about our husband, families, children, and friends.  But we sang along at the top of our lungs and we had a great time.  And you know…  I felt – sitting on a grassy hill with the summer sky large above me, fragrant and expansive, pulling me against gravity – I felt so very sad that it had taken me this long to see the band.  I almost missed out entirely.  I guess I “grew up” in middle school and realized it wasn’t cool to like hard rock, or it wasn’t what other girls liked, or maybe I just got into the real boys to be found a little more locally, but I’d left it behind and thought the whole thing kind of silly until last night, when I was overwhelmed with the memories of how much it had meant to me way back then before I lost so much of my sense of self.

And I was too far away to throw my panties on stage.  But I liked thinking about it – you know, a nice, respectable pair of cotton knickers sort of floating down like a little cozy blanket.

Thank you for the rock and roll, boys.

* The cut-up band t-shirt and uber-shredded jeans – which Jen and I absolutely drooled over as young teens, and I made a pair for myself in seventh grade, before I lost my fashion authenticity for many years – is not the only sartorial awesomeness donned by Mr. Elliot in the signature video.  I had forgotten the athletic shorts with the 1″ inseam and the charming little black bolero jacket.

**P.S. I did, in fact, marry a rock star.

They Placed 3rd In Best Dressed

my daughter is about a thousand percent awesome

Sophie (my daughter) registered our pet Sophie (a laying hen) in today’s pet show – an event I remember participating in myself when I was the same age (both times I entered I managed to humiliate myself and my pets: don’t ask).  As opposed to the hot library lawn the contest was held in our wooden stadium – one of the most comfortable large-scale gathering places I’ve ever known.  It was a small, friendly, lovely event.

Of her own accord Sophie (the human) made herself a special necklace to look nice for the judges, then cut out and hand-lettered the exhibition sign thusly:

To wit, Damege on her brain is real and was caused by a dog attack. Shes still a good bird, and received many compliments on her behavior and decorum today.

To wit, "Damege on her brain" is real and was caused by a dog attack. She's still a good bird, and received many compliments on her behavior and decorum today.

This is my chicin,
Sophie.  She has some
Damege on her Brain.

First name: Sophie Last: Hogaboom
(not chicen!) age: 7
Town: Hoquiam
State: Wa

‘Nuff said.  The girls were awarded 3rd place in the “Best Dressed” category (Sophie the chicken had a homemade princess hat, you know, the kind that is a cone with a long fluttery fabric bit on top.  I think they should have placed higher given they were the only non-dog and the only homemade costume in the category, but there were at least two of four judges with on-record anti-chicken sentiments).

My daughter not only showed complete expertise and calm in handling the bird, but was the first contestant to take advantage of the promenade set out on the grass.  She walked quite calmly and with aplomb, turned, smiled, affording her beloved fowl* all the time in the world.  The bird behaved herself so well many people clapped, exclaimed, and complimented us on her poise.

My children spent the rest of the rather lovely little event going from contestant to contestant, complimenting and examining the other pets.  I hadn’t originally wanted to take time out of my day for a pet show, but in so many ways I’m discovering our children have wiser plans than we.

* In direct contrast our son Nels is determined to eat Bluster, our other laying hen.  Why,  I do not know.

while you were dragging that stick through the dirt

I used to be into the Love and Logic books and methods for successful parenting – not so much now. As a result of a class we enrolled in over a year ago I’m still getting the program’s weekly emails, consisting of “tips” – alternately douchey, authoritarian-sounding advice (“Is Your Family A Team?”) vs. decent advice (“Looking Calm When We’re Not”) – and ads for seminars and products to buy.

Ultimately, I’ve decided L&L reeks of control and manipulation. I don’t think it means to, and I genuinely think some of the methods, when practiced by adults who have their shit together, are good ones; I’ve employed some of them. But Love & Logic sets up family environment as a conflict where no matter what the parent must TRIUMPH over the will of a non-cooperative child, a team sport where the grownups make sure they win out over their children through humane-seeming, but ultimately domineering, principles and occasionally ridiculous, cumbersome consequences meant to mirror “natural” ones (whatever that means).

Today I was thinking of the temptation to not want to be made a fool of by our children, while I hung up the kids’ clothes in the closet and they played outside. It was that little voice that piped up, they’re playing while you’re working, and it reminded me of my own family’s, “Kids need to learn…” mantras. As in, “kids need to learn things aren’t handled for them”, “Kids need to learn how to clean up after themselves”, “Kids need to learn their actions have consequences”, etc. etc. It took me a few years but now I feel genuine puzzlement or delight when I hear such foolishness. I was part of a “need to learn” upbringing, and in most ways I didn’t give a damn about doing housework or handling my own stuff – until I was an adult. I do housework joyfully and rather well, these days. Because being out in the world I made it my own.

These days – for now – I have come to believe young children’s best primary job is to play. Not to be sitting in a desk at school, or being smacked by other kids at free-for-all recess, or zoning in front of a television, or being shuttled about from fast food restaurant to t-ball game etc. No, simply to play – and if possible and appealing to them, outdoors. I have been continually astounded by my children’s imaginative abilities and desire to play: ten thirty at night, after bath, and my daughter wants nothing more than for me to take up her little plastic dinosaurs with her and make up elaborate scenarios for them. She still has steam; I am tired and ready to sip a glass of wine and watch an old movie. Most parents reading this will relate, and pause thinking how uniquely play-oriented our children are. Can we trust to nature and let them play?

Yes, meanwhile, the child grows and needs to be fed and washed and have their clothes mended.
Yet my children do more work voluntarily around the house than my brother and I did. I have dealt with the potential chore discrepancy and resentment rather successfully – so far* – through a few principles:

Number one, self-talk. I try to tell my kids why I do what I do, and this includes the work around the house. Kids learn what they see you doing; if they see you taking care of yourself, of them, and of the home in a joyful, matter-of-fact manner, they may adopt similar attitudes and behaviors.

Number two, again – freedom. Children being allowed to do what they want, and then fed a decent meal, you can sit down at the table and say, “Do you guys want to finish reading your book then come help clean up your room?” The answer has so far most always been Yes. If the answer is No you can ask them what, then, they expect to do? I have found that being agreeable to their wants and predilictions, combined with the self-talk I exercise, makes them ready in equal measure to assist in age-appropriate jobs around the house.

And number three: responsible ownership. My children have so few toys that there is no mess they can make in their room that doesn’t take about fifteen minutes to clean up. The kids seem to enjoy their room and the ease they can clean it; last week Nels even took the initiative to mop, in order to prepare the room for his favorite game, that of Restaurant (the children have named the establishment “Pumpkin Jack’s”). If my children learn, as I feel, that it is a joy to care for their material posessions and treasure them, they will be ahead of my young adult self when I gained emancipation.

It is in play, freedom, and autonomy that my children grow their personalities, pick the things that are important to them, and perhaps most importantly exercise their considerable – considerable – vigorous natures to a full extent. They remind me that the adult world is often a grim one of power plays and resentments; they encourage me to take a sip from their boundless energies and emerge refreshed.

* Altho’ I do notice the Universe often deals me a dish of, “Yeah, you think you got it figured out? Try THIS on for size” whenever I’m feeling peaceful and triumphant on a familial issue…

assignment: go down each slide in GH county

Sophie
* This weekend was dominated by a sleep/swapover; we had our friends’ children over on Friday night, and they took Sophie last night. Nels was scheduled to attend as well but he spent Friday running away from me a handful of times, including at the YMCA then later around the block to the iffy Trios bar on Simpson Avenue where had he stayed one more minute he would have schmoozed his way inside and smoked a few Camels. Exasperated I pulled his sleepover privilege. One of those things as a parent where you don’t know what to do so you just do something. I do believe (and cross my fingers) Nels will take this to heart and begin asking me before running off to skeezy taverns.

So anyway.

Avast ye Trees
We planted trees on Saturday, hauling the four kids along. They mostly played and threw giant rocks in the stream. As for me I thought it was a ceremonial, plant-one-tree-in-a-park kind of thing (I think in a half-assed way I thought it was Arbor Day) – not the wet, cold, muddy work party that greeted us when we arrived. I wasn’t dressed for it, and it was so cold it would have taken the damper off my spirits for anything, even things I like so much more than planting trees, like eating Mexican food or doing some ass-grabbing.

We are working on lots of projects for homeschool. My children’s talent is wonderful, in part because it pops up in ways I heretofore had never realized they had:

Playground Map
“MIRICAN FAG”. Here we see much of Nels’ artwork and spelling. The red lines are “bridges”. The flag is a majestic specimen located at Morrison River Park in Aberdeen. At first he’d written “American” with no “a”; a couple days later he intuited the vowel sound at the beginning of the word and updated accordingly. The weird thing is a lot of people pronounce it the way he first wrote it. Nels is an expert: phoenetics, olfactory identification, and social justice (although he occasionally seems to consider himself exempt from the latter).

* Shown in photograph: Sophie’s seventh tooth lost, kicked out of her head by her brother on Friday morning.