the littlest giant

Today the children and I went off for a lunch date and then swimming as soon as I’d done the laundry and made all the beds blah blah blah. We got sandwiches together at Subway (all three of us eating for $11; can’t beat that) where I saw then introduced myself to one of the excitable soccer parents from last weekend.

The kids were a delight to have lunch with. They were very hungry (well, for them – the kids and I are all three kind of light eaters), splitting a ham sandwich on flatbread and judiciously divvying up a milk between them, followed by a cookie apiece. I can’t always know when they are hungry and I’m glad I took them out first because we ended up playing quite vigorously in the pool.

It felt wonderful to be back in the water again. Now that it’s school season we often have the pool to ourselves which is incredibly peaceful.

Phoenix and I played many games together. This was a welcome improvement from the last few months we’ve visited the pool. Phoenix loves to swim with me but often we have to stay close to Nels or risk being admonished by the capricious lifeguards and this limitation has frustrated us both in the past. Today she figured out a few new games we could engage in together: we performed a syncrho-swimming waterdance using hoops formed from those styrofoam noodles in the pool (she challenged herself to see how long she could stay under and quickly swim in back and forth in the hoops; she got up to three). Then she had me hold her straight out from my waist, her legs around my body, while I spun her like a fan blade through the water (now that was a workout for both of us!). I get dizzy easily now (ever since I had kids, and I’m not making that up) so I had to rest between goofy games like this. She helped Nels improve his kick. She tickled me and swam in and out around my legs with a grace and a lack of kicking-me-in-the-face which was delightfully new and appreciated.

My son has been a bit fragile today. It is truly a wonderful experience for me to be able to be available to them for their needs. Today from across the pool my son swam out from the little winding river and I saw the set in his shoulders and the sadness in his eyes. And I swam over to him and asked, “What is it baby?” He told me he had hiccups and they were hurting his body. He said, “But I feel better now you’re here,” and wrapped his arms and legs around me. And there’s probably nothing that smells and feels better to me than my children.  And sure enough a hiccup jerked through his little body, his frog-like limbs and tender little ribcage and his little belly. And I showed him how to hold his breath and tighten his eyes up and plug his nose and ears and he tried this many times, his little body convulsing now and then. The hiccups seemed too big for him!

Later at home he lay on top of me and we played “I Spy.” He made me laugh about eighteen times. For instance when he said, “I spy something BLUE… It’s outside.” I laughed and told him the whole point of the game is that you could SEE the thing from where you were. But I got it anyway (answer: the sky). A minute later it was my turn and I told him it was something that looked like a breast… he looked and looked and finally I had to tell him it was up high, at which point he saw the hemisphereical-with-nipple-fitting center light in our room and pointed triumphantly and then looked down at me and shook the hair out of his eyes and said knowingly, “Eas-y,” as if he hadn’t been guessing for minutes! I laughed and wrestled him and grabbed him up and we kissed and hugged times One Hundred.

I played a game with him, one he hadn’t remembered but I had. First I took my hand on his bare big toe (the right one) then pretended The Toe was sojourning on his body on its way to see The Head (I perform the role of The Toe by dancing my fingers along his body). So The Toe would stop and introduce herself to The Ankle, or whomever (as played by Nels) and they’d have a little talk, with The Ankle directing The Toe on further to her destination. Et cetera. We played this when the kids were little – I mean littler. It’s one of those simple but amazing games because it involves a lot of touch but a total respect by the grownup, since the child is in control of directions. We play similar games where the children will tell me where to kiss them, or stroke them or squeeze them, or (if they want to scare themselves) bite them or pinch them.

It really is an honor to be trusted and loved so much by my little ones.

In other news I have the perfect Halloween costume idea (finally!). I do not have money to garner my supplies!  Very upsetting. I am hoping (against all hopes) to set up a little display and sell a few of my wares. This would be a miracle (by “miracle” I mean something kind of nice that no one could possibly give a shit about, and thusly deserves a less auspicious descriptor) as I do not have my items ready or a display ready and also, by the way, I’m being a total coward about the whole business. Halloween approaches and I have three semi-elaborate getups to assemble and I’ve made no headway and can’t even sell our last running car without a few repairs that I’m not even going to type about as one of them makes the vehicle un-street legal.

to quote mr. withers: a lovely day, lovely day, lovely day

Oh good Lord. I can’t stop taking pictures of my children. Probably because they’re Magic. And beautiful.

At Lunch 1

At Lunch 2

At Lunch 3


That expression on Nels’ face? That’s how he usually looks. Smiling.

Today at this very lunch we were eating our soup and ceasar salad and cheesy bread when Nels began to fiddle inside of his mouth. I immediately felt nauseated as, sure enough, his hand emerged with a tooth (his second, lost). I just about put my head down on the table. Anything tooth-related makes me want to barf. Oddly this does not translate to dentophobia – I can fall asleep in the chair I’m so relaxed. But you know, tooth loss, I kind of get weirded out at the idea of a bone falling out of our face.

Phoenix, just before soccer:

Before Soccer Practice 3

Before Soccer Practice 2

Before Soccer Practice 1

It was one of those wild days today: pouring down rain, lovely rain, wet rain. The kind of rain they show in movies when trying to make dramatic effect. Then the rain stopped at we had that kind of lovely wet fall day, leaves aren’t falling yet, the pavement smells clean, the world is newly awash and there’s an adventurous electricity in the air.

It was heavenly.

the secret ingredient is LURVE

Last night, playing “school” at the kids’ request:

This morning, first thing when Nels woke up. And by the way. You might think this is boring but I am on the EDGE OF MY SEAT for every second of this film.

Now this? This is some trifling shit.
August 15th, 2010

Earlier in the day: chicken soup from leftover roast chicken and garden veggies (I cooked down the breast bones/remainder along with veggie goodness as bone-broth to freeze):

Chicken Soup For My SOUPTAKER

It was my mother’s birthday today: she turned 61. She was so pleased to see we didn’t forget her day and rather came bearing gifts and spaghetti and meatballs and a fancy dessert (trifles are decidedly not fancy but look and taste gorgeous). I had a couple glasses of wine and soon I was tearfully talking about my longing for another child (non-bio) and she was tearfully telling me to go for it. Ralph looked and listened on and didn’t seem too annoyed with me.

We left the kids to sleep over and Ralph and I came home and spent our evening in a pleasant enough way (note: TOTAL SHAG-ATHON) and now? It’s just about bedtime.

I almost forgot in the excitement of everything the last few days I was featured yet again in Sew Mama Sew! My sewing, with the heat and the last few days’ various excitements, has fallen to the wayside. We leave for our vacation tomorrow and it’s anyone’s guess if I’ll get my sewing projects finished before we go – my original goal.

For now, it’s close to midnight and time to fall into bed with my spouse, who is currently being chewed up by our two very frisky little kittens.

Two years ago: my father was dying. I’ll be re-visiting those writings over the next week. I wasn’t able to read them last year.

the darling in the exam room

Before parenthood there were some things out of the breadth of my life experience which I now, fast-forward, idenfity as regular facets of it.  Like creative urination rituals, or being screamed at in public, or a midnight run to a grocery store for a box – you heard – of wine.

Or, concussions.

Both my children are incredibly active and as they are not required to sit at a desk in school all day they are mostly riding bikes, climbing trees, swimming, skateboard, arc welding, etc. In short they are a mass of bruises from the knees down and often their hands and feet have scratches as well, which heal with a remarkable alacrity (think: alien life form, it’s actually quite scary).

Especially Nels.  With the injuries, I mean. Who today, after we got home, got into a horrific scooter accident before the screen door swung shut behind my ass as I brought our groceries in. He had hopped on the scooter to go down the block and check on a much-younger child who was alone on the corner (to make sure the kid was okay).  But his shoe caught on the treacherous motherfucking HQX sidewalk and down he went. Phoenix came right inside and told me Nels had fallen. She was completely calm but she let me know it was a serious fall. When I got to him he was sitting on the grass crying but no harder than a minor spill. He put his arms around me and I saw the abrasion on his knee and felt that familiar pang of sadness, softness, empathy and love. Inside the house Phoenix ran a bath (to bathe his wounds) and got him some new clothes. He was calm before I sat down with him on the couch. Then I noticed the alarming goose egg under his blonde hair. Like: gross. Massive. I almost threw him off my lap.

I am no stranger to kid-injury of course. Last time we had a bike accident that warranted medical attention I managed to get right into the doctor for a look-over.  This time, no dice. The receptionist told me I had to get him to the ER.  Now honestly, this didn’t seem necessary, but since the doctor wouldn’t see me and we don’t have Urgent Care anymore … well fine.  So my afternoon was spent in the hospital, a place I don’t find particularly depressing or distressing. Nels was a hit with the personnel because I think they are used to parents talking for their children, and of course I don’t need to speak for Nels at all. He made sure to tell each person who helped us that he was not there to get shots.

A not-too-long wait and lots of paperwork and interviews of the little guy…
It Is The Waiting That Is Difficult

and poking and prodding (they even had him get into a wee little hospital gown!)…
Warmed Blankets

And we were on our way home with the normal, “Call us if you see vomiting or if he gets nauseated or an eyeball pops out of his head, etc. etc.”

I’m glad my little guy is okay.

Oh and P.S.: today in the bike shop he reiterated his desire for a unicycle. So. Yeah.

Our adventure put aside my sewing project, a kick-ass coat for the little fellow. Sneak peak:
Almost Done!

More outdoor lurve:
Lass In The Glen
Phoenix, at last week’s visit to the Polson Museum.

And Nels in the lumber-mill of the same – playing with something sharp and dangerous-looking:
Danger Machine

an apologist for lurve

I have to be so careful not to sound like I’m fetishizing the child-raising and family experience because, to tell the truth, it often seems to sound like I am.

What’s cool is that I do not promote my writings for readership nor take ad money or try to get picked up or join a web ring or in any way try to make a cash living out of the whole bit. It’s not that I have a judgment on those courses of action, it’s that I don’t want to do things that way with my writing (it is, um, mine after all). What the purity of my desire to merely communicate boils down to for me is a certain lack of pressure on my writings, whether they be Good or Ass. I can know that truly if I am boring anyone reading it’s not like I have in any way tried to say this journal is worthy of large readership or Everyone Should Listen. I talk so much on familiar subjects I’m sure I’ve scared may off, yawning. Secretly I’m happy to kind of Not Really Know About the many who’ve found me distasteful and fled. I am happy when I hear my writings mean something to others, I am. I am sad when my writings cause others distress, although I can’t always know when, how, or why this happens. I endeavor to communicate my experiences as clearly as I can, with little other goal.

Writing about my family and children is really writing about my expansion of experience. I find myself daily amazed at the lessons I learned in childhood and how I merely assimilated them even when they were hurtful or twisted. My life with kids and family has been quite healing as there are so many things I suffered as a kid, not huge travesties of justice mind you, but a series of Wrongs so subtle yet linked together such that my worldview used to be a sadder, more cramped one. For years I was angry or depressed that that world was The Way It Was and there was Nothing One Could Do About It. Today I know neither of those things are completely true; it is my children who’ve been my greatest teachers in this regard.

My family continues to afford me the opportunity to not only provide them with a gentleness and respect I was not always afforded, but to provide it to others as well. Today while my husband and I had breakfast out an older couple with their two young grandchildren shuffled in and sat behind us. The kids were enthusiastic about the venue (an airport cafe) and talked and babbled excitedly. Two things occurred to me: one that I was glad my husband and I were alone and did not have to “mind” squirrelly kids who get glares from grownups, and two that their voices, “raised” as they were, were so much sweeter and smaller than their carers likely heard them.

In another moment this observation was tested. The older child, a boy of four or so, became angry with his grandmother. He put his hands on her face and shouted to get her attention: “Grandma, you need to stop! You were wiggling! You are not supposed to wiggle!” Ralph and I carefully and successfully managed not to laugh aloud. The two adults at the table responded with a muffled and unified fury. I heard the grandfather (sitting so close to me our backs were almost touching) speak very sternly and angrily to the children: that was enough of that or they’d have to go home. The “disruptive” child seemed to have already lost focus in the moment, likely as he had assured his grandmother’s full attention on the grievance he wanted aired. The tiny ruckus had passed, leaving a slight air of tension in their corner of the diner.

I turned around to the subdued table and said quietly, “Grandma, I’m watching you. I saw you wiggling.”

At this the grandfather burst into deep and hearty laughter and the grandmother’s face relaxed. “Yes, I was. I was wiggling while I was moving this chair,” she affirmed. Ralph and I laughed because (we hardly needed to verbally share) the child’s outburst reminded us very much of one of our own. I can’t know if my joshing had any good affect on these fellow-diners (although it seemed to), but I can remember the times a kind stranger has smiled at me to let me know hey, it’s okay, we’re all human, and your children are human too. It has meant so much to me in a microcosm that often seems to wish my children to be silent and required a perfection of mother-care (these “perfections” often at odds with one another) and an unpleasant series of Disapproval hand-slappers. I thought how sad if parents, grandparents and carers can’t hear the “ruckus” of these small children, their voices so much smaller than the adult conversations happening all around the crowded restaurant, without feeling a tension to respond according to the cultural pressures in the room.

My father was a person with a resevoir of memory. He could bring forth a previously-unheard anecdote or Buddhist story or even a (usually funny) joke, always (it seemed to me) in moments when they most applied. I remember a story he told me once or twice. It is a part of the education he gave me that I savor.

One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice.

As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine. His situation was growing more dire.

Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He stretched his arm out, reached, plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious!

Since the day my father told me this story it has meant a great deal to me. It is like something tender that swims in my heart. The slings and arrows of life and the blows and defeats; the inevitability of death and the lack of security in this flesh – none of these things can take away the meaning this story has for me right now.

8 AM
Phoenix, Nels, and Ralph this morning. The children sleep holding hands.

we are broke and it ain’t no joke

I nearly finished a woolen flannel hat I started a couple days ago. I would have it complete but the grosgrain ribbon I bought was all kinds of ass and looked extra-terrible when I put it in; now I have to rip it all out. I’m going to order some from an actual millinery supply shop (online). Should cost about a dollar (half as much as the “instant gratification” solution of Walmart, which ended up a non-solution).

Then I’ll have a hat. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it as it’s slightly too small. I made the size Large, but my head is big I guess. I kind of knew this but didn’t have the balls to sew with a smaller seam allowance. I did this once on a hat years ago and the thing swam on my head. Of course this was years ago and I have progressed as a seamstress. I probably could have given myself an extra smidge of room and maybe ended up with a hat that fit. But: I didn’t.

Thanks for listening to my hat story.

I had just stepped out the door for my run when Nels came flying outside in a dress and bare feet, begging me not to go (I’d told him I was going, and it’s only for a half hour, and he was fine – but he changed his mind I guess. Sometimes he gets lonely and wants me and wails, “Little Mama!” in the most plaintive voice). So I returned to the porch and helped finish dressing him and we returned to our run (me) and a bike ride (him). This was all kinds of excellent.

Tonight we borrowed some bucks from my mom and ate out at our HQX Mexican restaurant, Los Arcos. We split entrees but someone ordered a secret margarita and two small people ordered Shirley Temples and the whole business spiraled out of control.
IMG_4914 IMG_4913 IMG_4915

Seriously? These three all crammed together on one side of the booth. The kids are all over their dad when he gets home from work. They spar over who gets to sit by him so he usually lets them both. Nels ate his hamburguesa (I think this restaurant makes the best in town) leaned against his father.

And finally, I picked up a HUGE package at the Post Office – a box full of fabric from my girl JJ. I wish I was famous so I had people sending me love-gifts all the time (but not so famous I got stalkers or death-threats). This was a wonderful and exciting bit of my day – rushing home to open the box and peruse the awesome yardage (I’ve already washed and cut out some of it to sew up tomorrow!) I love mail; I love fabric. That really works for me.

Thank you again, JJ.

Now it’s time for an MST Monday feature, all cuddled up together in the bed with yes, a frosty beer, the first I’ve had in weeks.

Today worked out pretty good.


Little Trundlekin
This is the kind of awesomeness I live with. It makes up for pretty much any bad thing that happens to me.

In Nels’ right hand he’s holding the handle to his favorite vaccuum. It really is his favorite. We found it (the vaccuum, not the handle) in the Habitat for Humanity store a few weeks ago. I had no money but Nels begged, begged me to buy it. The men there told us it was $5 (the price tag said $10) and put Nels’ name on it. We picked it up via bike the next day. He vaccuums with it, natch, but also takes the handle out as a hiking stick/sword.

Also, I am a knitting sewing fool. The hat, coat, shirt, pants, and bag were all made by me (P.S. I made the kid too).

balaclava, minor changes, sunshine, hooray!

Mama + Little Guy
I wasn’t able to get to sleep at a decent hour last night.  But from my spot on the couch, while I watched an old episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (this film is like a Conan the Barbarian but with less credible sleaze and a more unappealing “hero”, yes really), I could see my son as he ventured into the kitchen, poured a glass of milk (eschewing the Hershey’s chocolate this time), fetched a homemade whole wheat roll, split it, slathered peanut butter on it, pulled up a stool to the counter, then ate and ate and ate.  His attitude was one of deep satisfaction; I thought to myself how most things I do when I’m awake are for these children, and everything’s working out well enough, and I just love them so incredibly deeply.

Last night besides getting up to movie-watching and sewing and painting our fingernails hot pink, my daughter – who’d recently made a “Sopping List”* of various grooming accoutrement she’d wanted for herself – including a brush, nail polish, and new shampoo and conditioner – got her long-standing wish to dye her hair black.  She paid our friend Jasmine one dollar to help.  The result is a deep black-blue, like a comic book shero. And she’s lovely.

Lurve, Bit Of Poppy

In the bathroom, Sophie, upon rinsing out her new hair says to Jasmine, “I can tell I’m going to have a good life.”

* Ha ha! She totally can’t spell and I take every opportunity to joke about this!

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.