I forgot to mention, I’m having a rough day today.  I guess I’ve been having a few of these lately (it feels like a mild depression) and I worry writing about it makes it some big Thing that will be Boring to everyone, but then again I have to be honest for my own sake. Today very little reached my belly and made me laugh and I am ashamed to say I did not eat food except once today although I knew I should eat more and eat better for my health. I don’t need anyone to weigh in on this as the guilt (internally-supplied) is extremely unhelpful.

But there were a few episodes I wanted to write down because they were genuinely Good.

This afternoon my mother came over and picked up Phoenix to take her to the bank and cash her check from the painting she (Phoenix) sold. When they came back they’d brought me the most amazing array of fresh gladiolus. These are sitting on our little table and giving our living room a life of its own. My mom and I shared some tea and had a wonderful talk about a homebirth article I’d read that morning. She also thanked me for the chocolate and hardtack I’d brought her and my grandfather. When she drove home a little later she found, upon arriving at her house, my kitty Mable had snuck a ride. So Mable got to hang out at my mom’s for a few hours until she brought the little creature back. This made all of us smile. Cats are like children for me, a real blessing as even in a day with the doldrums they can give me cheer. I take comfort in caring for them and knowing at least I can do that much.

This afternoon Phoenix went ahead to the soccer field and attendant playground to roughhouse. I took Nels out for a lunch. Nels was overly-hungry (by his admission) and he was very sad as we were getting ready. I felt dizzy and horrid but I was gentle to the children, a kind of survival-level daze which is always accompanied by my deep respect and awareness at those who are chronically or more devastatingly ill and still have dependents to care for. I was counting down the moments until I’d have food for my Boy and he’d feel better.

As soon as we parted ways – my daughter on her bike off on her own adventure, my son behind me on the bike – Nels became very loving and clingy and pet me and told me in so many expressive ways how much he loved me. Our tenderness and closeness lasted through the next hour and a half until it was he playing on the playground and I sat with my husband and mother and watched soccer practice.

The one thing that made me laugh out loud and spontaneously today: when Nels and I arrived on the playground Phoenix was deep in play with two girls. The younger of the two aparently announced, “That boy in the red shirt with the long blonde hair? He’s hot.” Phoenix related this to me and we laughed. Nels didn’t understand what “hot” meant; when Phoenix and I told him the girl meant attractive he got a very knowing look and laughed. Just a precursor, some precocious and misplaced adult behavior on the part of the girl (I mean “hot”, really?) but still, as others may relate to, children grow up so fast and sooner than I’m really ready my children really will have little paramours.

let’s have a fairly hermitty Christmas and, apparently, never speak of it again

I’ve been honest with people when they ask me how my Christmas was this year:  “Not too great,” “Kind of lousy,” “Meh”.  That sort of thing.  You know, I realize more than ever there’s some kind of culturally-observed rule that ladies aren’t supposed to be honest when asked a question which truthfully would be answered by a less-than-sunshiney answer; about half the people who hear my response react with decidedly uncomfortable body language.  It’s not even like I’m reporting with much drama or any elaboration (because no one has yet asked why my Christmas was only asi-asi).  I guess for some people’s sake I’m just supposed to say, “Great!” enthusiastically and whip around, crouch down, and poop out rainbow-wind.

Gifts were modest but perfectly satisfactory amongst the Hogaboom foursome.  Friends and family provided a few more; my mother went all-out, possibly enacting a guilt-love offering since she was not in town for the Big Day but house- and cat-sitting in Portland.  We had a few dates with friends and I made good food and I was glad to be able to afford good groceries.  Our new house is comfortable and our health is good.

So you know, nothing major went wrong.  It just wasn’t that great.  I aspired to fewer gifts and I accomplished even less than before.  I was tired.  I had (and still have) a canker sore on the inside of my lip that really, really hurts like a sunovabitch.  We’re dog-sitting my mom’s dog and he’s devoted all his energy to ass-chewing and door-scratching.  Our dryer is broken and so loud it’s almost intolerable.  We are broke.  Not quite, water-getting-turned-off-and-checks-bouncing broke (BTDT though!), but, tight enough that my husband’s idea of a romantic and sweet gift was to offer to siphon gas from our waterlogged and out-of-commission car to the one that’s operable (and I am totally serious about this).

It helped me to accept some holiday doldrums when I remind myself that I can literally never remember a bad Christmas in my life before.  I’ve had really good Christmases for, at least inasmuch as I can remember, thirty-two in a row. That’s rather remarkable, but it took me until this year’s lackluster last few days for me to truly grasp this.

And our kids had a good Christmas, at least.  At midnight their pre-Christmas Crazies abruptly disappeared as they opened presents one at a time, expressed joy and gratitude, and said kind and loving things about the gifts and gift-givers.  It was really, really pleasant to spend that time with them. Ralph and I crashed about 1 AM and the kids stayed up and – all on their own – assembled their rather complex little Lego sets and then came and crawled into bed with us.

Good times.  Thanks, kiddos.

funny little frogs

It’s noon and the van is packed, the kids have enough water (it’s a hot day), and swaddled in my basket is a lunch of cheese on multigrain bread, roasted garbanzo beans (Nels calls them “grabanzo” beans), and carrot sticks in ice water. This morning I spent $7.34 for the food I brought my daughter’s class (a weekly ritual), have exactly $21 for the tank of gas to the city and back( the trip will take every penny), and retain $2 to buy myself a coffee (with tip) on the road.

I’m tired of driving to Olympia and back. This is the third time in about a month for the kids’ dentistry. After today, though, we will be done with sealants and fillings and the next trip won’t be until their October checkups. If I had a few bucks to buy some lunch or visit Danger Room Comics or a fabric store I’d have looked forward to this trip. Or even better, if I had someone along with me to chat. As it is I am instantly thrilled to my bones with horrific boredom at the little stretch of highway I have to traverse. I’ve never enjoyed repetitive car trips and incline my head with respect to those who don’t mind.

My daughter does well at the dentist’s and doesn’t even vomit later due to the nitrous gas administration (like she did last time). Driving back I’m impressed with my children; they are champs, not whining, not begging for McDonald’s or ice cream or telling me they’re bored. I have one earbud in (my iPod converter does not work) and the kids cope without DVD player or strenuous kiddie-music song recitation or even books, looking out the window and lost in their own thoughts. When we get home I give them something cold to drink and hug them and tell them I’m proud of them.