From the mouths of imps

Interesting fact: barring a couple exceptions, we see a lot more of our friends without children than our friends who are parents. I’d started noticing the trend a while back. I think it’s rather simple, really: we aren’t so rigorously scheduled – and our friends without children (nor intense schooling/dual-income schedules) have (or make) time as well. I’d previously thought often of my adult friends and what lovely parents they might become, if they so chose… Now seeing how things often go I feel a pang, wondering if they were to have children of their own if they’d disappear or if we could still be a part of their lives. Parenting new babies, for many it’s hard to go out in the world.

Today Nels and Jasmine texted all day long about the “rock hunt” they were going to go on in her back yard. I’m taking so. much. texting (on his part especially) and so. much. heckling (by him, at me) – he just really wanted to make sure the date happened as planned. While Phoenix set off on foot to pay our garbage bill, Nels and I listened to music in the kitchen and cooked up a storm. We made Chinese cabbage salad, from-scratch sweet and sour chicken (using fresh pineapple!), pork and vegetable fried rice (again, all from scratch), black tea, and red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting (Nels elected to dye the frosting pink). I have one frying pan, and this was a fry-centric meal, so it took a while longer than I’d planned.

At six we were joined by my mom and fellow Tweep and friend Justin and we ate and talked well into the night. Amber and Jasmine joined us after the GHC Winter Art Gala and a shift at Casa Mia, respectively, and as promised took The Boy out. Nels was Excited Times One Hundred.

Treasure

This Little Light Of Mine

When they got home Amber asked to take pictures of our son with his favorites.

Loot / Lurve

I kind of love that he gathered up his “conch shell”, pyrite, and obsidian, leaving only the ignatius rock out. Awkward.

Nels and I have not been getting along. All my fault, seriously, but I can’t quite figure it out. Yet.

He’s been relating a pretty fabulous day to me, though. While peeling carrots (he’s very skilled at obtaining results but makes quite a mess, which he then cleans up assiduously) he said, “Do you know what I like about myself? That I have such good parents.” (I’m not fucking kidding!) He then went on, “You help me with things that are difficult, like tying shoes. You spend time with me and do interesting things with me.” Then he thought for a while and started naming things he’d observed other parents do, that he didn’t think were so fabulous. I kept mum through it all, I mean besides acknowledging I’d heard him. Because really? It’s his life, his experience.

At dinner he ate two huge helpings of the pork / veggie fried rice and shouted it was “Awesome!” Later he took a cup of it into the bathtub. According to Ralph, only two grains of rice were spilled.

So yeah, you know? This parenting thing is pretty okay lots of the time.

For my daughter, on her 9th birthday

Dear Phoenix Fire,

Today at 5:57 PM I’d just stepped outside the diner Forever The Oriole for data reception. I was acutely aware of your voice behind me at the counter, giggling delightedly with Grandma. I was thinking of you, of course, because you were born at precisely 5:56 PM nine years ago this evening, after a protracted and medically-interventionist labor of about eighteen (very rough) hours.

Obviously I loved you at first sight; I write “obviously” not because that’s the way it always goes but because I’ve directly told you this so many times I don’t need to tell it again. But I want to. I can still see your flushed skin and feel your softly fluttering heart. I can still remember how exactly you smelled because you smell the same way today!  I used to lie next to you in bed in those first days of knowing you and I’d tell you with a frank devastating simplicity, “There’s everyone else in the world, and then there’s you.” Your dad didn’t have everything I had for you, every bit of my fiber and bloodstream and physicality we shared, but he caught up fast. Who wouldn’t? You inspire love wherever you are.

Today as we walked together your hand sought mine and I felt as gleeful and amazed and happy you wanted me and we could be together a while, the same specific joy I felt nine years ago when I held you in my arms.

I’ve written before how much knowing you has shaped me as a person. Mostly you’re just such an at-ease being it’s often guaranteed I am improved by your presence. Your integrity, your compassion, your sedate intelligence and your good-hearted nature are unparalleled in anyone I’ve yet met. It’s not just me who feels that way – every week people are telling me in new ways what a delight you are. I see life through your experience and I see a happy girl who knows she is loved. This is quite a gift for me to witness, as when I was your age I’m not sure I felt so good.

A friend this week said you seemed like an “adult” to her in every way. Yes, I can see what she means, but of course you are very silly and I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this quite sternly. For instance at the restaurant today what was with you and Grandma’s jokes about “King Tut grows butts”? And when I told you to stop wrestling with my mother because these very sour-faced patrons were glaring at me and I was tired of it, you said, “Glare back,” and you did just that. I don’t have the guts you do but I aspire to. Someday.

Of course, you are the funniest person I know even if no, I don’t much go for “butt” jokes. You can screw up your face into any expression and you cast your voice like a spell. When you make jokes I invariably laugh because they’re funny as hell. I can tell when you’re happy and well-cared for when you are quick to laugh at mine. I can tell something is amiss when you scowl at me, although you don’t do much of that lately.

I don’t know how much time we have together but I do know I like drinking up every drop. Thank you for sharing your life with me. Stay as long as you like, leave when you’re ready. Let me know how I can support you in everything you need.

Much love,

Mama

Cobra

Pleased

The other night while we watched a cartoon movie you said, “That’s what I want for my birthday – a giant mechanical wolf!” Well, I’m not sure if that’s in the cards, but we were gratified to see how much you like the scary-looking robotic LEGO cobra Grandma got you. Thanks for not holding it against me that the wolf is not immediately forthcoming.

Ruh-OH!

Oh yes. It’s Valentine’s Day. Got anything planned? I do. But first I like to get a little love song in my system.



But don’t worry. It’s not all teddy bears and diamond rings in champagne flutes. Because I’ve got a little something for anyone in ANY valentine disposition.

JUST FOR YOU: Twisted / Ardor*

Share Twisted / Ardor

Twisted /

“Please Don’t Leave Me” – Pink
Funhouse has been getting a lot of rotation here, mostly by Phoenix but I ain’t complaining. The first time I heard this song I thought, ew! The video only verified the awesome levels of Creepy & Wrong

“Don’t You Want Me” – The Human League
Come on, classic desperation. And when you bring it to the dance floor, no smiling allowed.

“Obsessed” – Mariah Carey
Another fun video by a knockout diva.

“Skullcrusher Mountain” – Jonathan Coulton
Hard to pick from all JoCo’s good stalkin’ rockin’. Last summer found me belting this one out while driving. The kids eventually dug it.

“Freakum Dress” – Beyonce
Oh Bey. You’re like a real-life princess and you sound like an angel. Sometimes your lyrics though, a bit unrelatable.

“Caught Out There” – Kelis
Well. It is Valentine’s Day!

“F*ck You” – Cee-Lo Green
How is this not everyone’s favorite song? OK, OK, I reject the “golddigger” narrative as offensively misogynistic but let me have my fun!

“La Tortura” (Shakira & Alejandro Sanz) – Shakira
This is the one I belt out at home at volume 11. P.S. I want to re-enact the video frame-by-frame, I need a partner and a buttload of onions though. Interested?

“Lose You” – Peaches
No love mix is complete without her teaches.

/ Ardor

“Heal The Pain” – George Michael
Another lovely piece from a fabulous artist; from an album released in 1990 and enjoyed immensely since then.

“Need U Bad” – Jazmine Sullivan
This is another one I love to sing, and Phoenie does too. Sullivan is one of the most expressive vocalists I’ve got in rotation these days.

“Drive” – The Cars
A classic that serves up nostalgia and longing.

“Never Let You Go” – Justin Bieber
Hey. Do you remember being fourteen? This song makes me cry. Haters, fuck off.

“Prove It All Night” – Bruce Springsteen
OK, in all seriousness, THIS is the one I’d like to belt out most, when Ralph finally realizes my hints at forming a dancehall cover band are not really hints.

“Let It Be Me” – Ray LaMontagne
Like so many ladies, I have fallen for the bearded crooner. IT’S A TRAP

“Human Touch” – Bruce Springsteen
The Boss is so good he rates twice.

“Skinny Love” – Bon Iver
I like Bon Iver despite Ralph giving me a swirlie every time he hears me listening to them.

“Waterbirds” – Tennis
From a pretty album by husband and wife, all shoegazey and sweet.

“Hello Love” – Be Good Tanyas
I want to be a lady-country-folkster with a guitar. And be a bit prettier with a unique songbird voice.

“Love Like a Sunset Part I & Part II” – Phoenix
We have this on vinyl. The whole album is lovely and holds a very special, rainy-and-windswept place in my heart.

***

Happy Monday, all!

* (Um, let me know if there’s any weirdness with listening in… I don’t really know how Rhapsody works for non-subscribers.)

34

The shampoo I lather on the kids’ head is in fact the cheapest I could find. $1.50 per bottle. It’s supposed to smell like apples, and it even does without any gross chemical underlinger. The soap is cucumber and green tea, and also new today. Everything smells good. Phoenix says, quite judiciously, “That soap looks expensive, I won’t use much.” I think how Nels and I are birds of a feather and would spend our last dime on dinner with friends and a box of cheap wine to keep us company. Phoenix takes more after her dad (and my brother, it appears). More… measured. Conservative.

The bathroom is filled with steam and our large kitty Harris purrs as the kids drip water on his coat; he waits and watches with contentedly slanted demon eyes. The kids squint up at me: “It’s your birthday,” they tell me. “Do you know how old I am?” I ask. “34” replies Phoenix, her face as bright as a penny. Nels smiles, reaches for a kiss, whispers, “34”. It has some kind of meaning.

Tired. I forgot to even tell you about the whole Wishkah Valley High School / TRALI / blood donation thing yesterday. Surreal. Ralph came out with me. I’m really grateful he came, as my vision swam a bit during and after my “donation” (hardly – rather three small sample vials). Very odd.

And lumberjacky.

Lumberjack Pride

“just keep ’em appetizing!”

The last few days have been full of lots of home-cooking. A broccoli, swiss, and pepperjack quiche, an apple pie with oat, brown sugar, pecan and cranberry topping, baguettes, green beans, mashed potatoes (SERIOUSLY Ralph does a great job on these), pot roast and green beans, spaghetti and meatballs (in case you’re wondering, two days ago Phoenix emphatically lifted vegetarian requirements but suggests organic and/or ethical meat when we cook with it), butter broccoli, roasted garbanzo beans atop red and white basmati rice (again, Ralph nailed this one) with an attendant fresh-veggie tray, salad with butter lettuce and cherry tomatoes that burst in one’s mouth, sweet tea and our usual hot coffee, ice cold Red Hook beer.

I struggle with occasional experiences of guilt when it comes to my kids and their care – food is an aspect of that care and it’s hard to feel daily okay about my efforts (unless you’ve been a mom you may not fully understand – not that every mom necessarily does, either).  In a more balanced vein, the part of me that feels genuinely Me instead of feeling under pressure, one of my pleasures in life is to cook for those who enjoy the food provided; there is an additional pleasure I get in seeing my kids devour everything on their plates (which they don’t always do, but for instance they did tonight). I think it’s a pretty simple thing, really. Their bodies and minds are strong and beautiful and growing; their robust appetite reminds me of this and feels like an odd sense of security and love. I also genuinely enjoy it when I’m able to provide someone with the exact thing they want, and my family loves what I provide. My kids tell me fresh bread or lemon asparagus or frijoles refritos or hardboiled eggs and carrot sticks or bún thịt xào; I can make it happen as if by magic, and always with love.

Tonight I worked right up until I realized it was long time for me to rest. I wanted to be brave enough to not do the dishes (Ralph almost always does them but tonight he watched a movie with me instead). But, no dice, becuase once I get an idea in my head it’s hard to let it go. Just after 4 AM I washed dishes and wiped counters and made some new sweet tea for Ralph tomorrow but soon l I felt genuinely beat, and I still had more work to do. I followed the kids through their bath and picked up bath toys and re-sorted tidied the living room…

and got a cold beer and came to bed and turned on a ghost television show on Netflix …

And now? Close the laptop and take a few minutes with the kiddos before Slumbertown, Population: Us.

a far green country

I’m going to pretend my self-diagnosis isn’t entirely half-assed or unqualified and mention I’d put my seasonal depressive disorder business just a tick up from “moderate” and toward the “nearly debilitating” category. I continue to find evidence of this, such as: today was warm, spring-like, crystal clear, there was even a fellow across the street mowing his lawn. My response was visceral and immediate and profoundly joyous: “the grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then I see it”: fuckin’ SUNSHINE.

I opened the blinds and scrubbed the bathroom clean and washed the laundry room shelves and started a tub of bleach water for my bar cloths and wiped down counters and blinds and motherfuckin’ vacuumed (I never, ever do this) and shook out blankets and laundered throws and washed the dishes and sorted and rinsed and soaked beans and did some lovely and exhilarating yoga and knew I’d even finish my dress (and I did, and: Yay!). All fantastic and all before my daughter woke and her friend came over and I sent them out for the remainder of dinner groceries with a pocketful of cash.

While Phoenix was out, and after my victorious morning, Nels became quite sad. I asked him how I could help, and he requested breakfast cereal. He asked me to give him more milk in the bowl, and happily drank it up, and lo and behold, this was what he needed. After his cereal he washed his hands and face and I picked him up, and I don’t know how I did this but I held him and danced with him for several songs, and I’m not sure if I can convey how much he loved this. He buried his face in my neck and then he’d pull his head back and smile deeply into my eyes. He kissed me dozens of times. He said, “you’re making me sleepy!”, but I don’t think he felt exactly sleepy, more protected and nurtured and loved. And so did I. And for some reason my body and arms felt strong and I could hold him and hold him and we sang and held one another until our (second set of) guests arrived.

The light faded all-too-soon and our dinner and dinner guest visit was broken up by an odd phone call BUT! even after all that Ralph and I got so much work done at home. It’s like the sunshine gave me everything I’ve been missing. It’s dark now, and it’s late, so late in fact it’s early; and I’ll have a hot bath and a cold beer and snuggle between the kiddos and laugh and tickle and kiss and hug.

Today you can’t take away the things we had.

***

I put a lot of effort into my relationships… consciously, sure – but often not even so. I’d like to let you know what I mean. The way my mind works, my friends and loved ones are always with me, waking and sleeping (I’ve been known to dream of someone I haven’t spoken to in months, then track them down to see how they are). When I see a news article or a blog post or hear a song or see a video I think of these people and am likely as not to bake them some bread or send them an email, even a brief one, or make them a mix tape, or send them a homemade Valentine. I send these blog posts or articles or emails not just because I know they will resonate (I rarely miss my mark), but as a symptom that my friends and loved ones are with me, all the time; I gift food not because I have some extra on hand but because I cooked something (hopefully) delicious, often planned for that exact person, but in any case I know homemade fare crafted with panache and willing love is a very wonderful gift indeed.

Sometimes these many presences are draining, actually. Maybe this is part and parcel with how I often feel so tired. I’ve long said I have an active mind – not a particularly intelligent one or productive one.

Someday I’m going to have to figure out if holding someone in my heart is good enough; if I can let them slip my mind.

But in the meantime, I want to take a moment here and thank a few people who I’ve experienced as restorative. This list will not take the place of personal communication. It will also not be exhaustive. I’m tired, and my mind is often more dull than people credit, and I will surely forget someone who’s given me something amazing lately.

But I’ll do my best.

I’d like to thank my readers for their presence. I’d like to thank those who write and comment because it touches me they take the time to read, and to communicate, and to offer themselves. I make my best effort to respond and to thank them, and I mean every word when I do so.

I’d like to thank this random Facebooker for a very nice comment on a recent article I wrote, a comment praising my writing but also one sharing news of a lovely and joyous birth. I’m grateful she took the time to speak her piece.

I’d like to thank Cynthia, Abi, Jasie, and Jodi, for taking time to see me last weekend, and for letting me eavesdrop on their lives and enjoy their smiles and laughter and uncommon beauty.

I’d like to thank Shannon for mentioning (long ago) the particular yoga host I put on for this morning’s practice. I’d also like to thank her that while I was trying to relax and concentrate on my breath I could remember all the sexual comments she’d made about him in his tiny little briefs with his amazing body etc., because I kept huffing little bits of laughter while doing sun salutations, etc.

I’d like to thank Christina for remembering my birthday (which is coming up on the 11th of this month), as well as her chats and emails which are always deeply thoughtful and interesting. I also will never forget when she called me in 2007 after I’d had a horrific personal blow.

I’d like to thank Kate for taking time to write back and forth with me about alcoholism, recovery, addiction, anxiety, and family. This conversation is the beginnings of one I needed deeply – I thank her for her expertise and her enormous depths of compassion and intelligence.

I want to thank Amore for her part in a more or less constant friendship I have treasured deeply since we were young girls, and for a new chapter in this friendship. I think anyone she is intimate with is a deeply fortunate person. And I don’t mean that in a pervy way or anything. This time.

I’d like to thank Ryan (in AZ) for being one of my faithful and vocal male readers and someone I can talk to who really puts his all into his consideration and response to me. His is a deeply compelling friendship. I wish there were a lot more men like him who would make themselves known.

I want to thank Tamara for writing me recently for advice on something very close to her heart and on her mind. I hope in any way I can help her. I appreciate hearing from her.

I’d like to thank Wendy for being a real, true-life, living and breathing mentor I can correspond with. This is an incredibly fortunate thing to have. One day I hope to meet her in person.

I’d like to thank Jeanne for friendship, for fellowship – spending time together, one of the most uncommon gifts – and having the kind of mind and spirit I find entirely edifying. If the world had more citizens like her it would be a much better place. Think all the awesomeness of Sesame Street with no downside.

I’d like to thank Jasmine and Amber, because when we’re together talking I truly feel an electric exchange of ideas and they give me hope, since they are leaders today and will be leaders tomorrow. They also make me laugh that way where my eyes fill with tears and my face gets red and also we’re usually smoking which is to their credit, even though I’m told this filthy habit is on the way out, and aren’t we gauche.

I’d like to thank Mickey for being one of those people who brightens this little sleepy town and provides Ralph and I opportunities to volunteer for a wonderful and worthy cause. I’d like to thank her too for talking recipes and for giving us with fresh bay leaves when we need them.

I’d like to thank JJ for writing bravely and often about her life.

I’d like to thank anyone who likes hearing about or talking about or watching my cats or who loves cats. I self-identify as Crazy on the subject.

I want to thank Sarah who sent my son a sticker swap letter a while back; I immediately lost her envelope and don’t know which Sarah she is – her last name or address. I’d like to thank her properly – if she’s still reading.

I’d like to thank Elizabeth, Samantha, & Michelle for being these incredibly whip-smart lovelies on Twitter at all hours of the day and night. They lift me up and are forces for the Good.

I’d like to thank Paige that I can send her a handful of words through DM and she totally knows what the hell I’m talking about, every time.

I want to thank Kat because she’s one of a small number of people in my life who sends me the emails, articles, and blog posts – all of which evidences that I am in her mind and her heart. This means a great deal to me. I am looking forward to seeing her this next weekend.

I’d like to thank Karen for daily being someone to share a bone-deep love of sewing and creativity that is difficult to explain to anyone is not swimming right with us. Karen is an incredibly talented person, and the fact she is following her dreams and desires even despite opposition – when so few do or can – gives me a thrilling sense of hope. She is an inspiration and her friendship is a rock.

I’d like to thank my mother for beginning to hear me talk about my damaging experiences in childhood and really listen – instead of being defensive. Oddly, I think she is beginning to trust me more where she didn’t before. I’d also like to thank her for making time daily to tell me what’s going on in her life and what’s important to her. I realize now if she didn’t volunteer this information regularly I would be left wondering, and I would seek it out earnestly.

I’d like to thank my husband and partner Ralph. I’m trying to narrow down what to thank him for, today, so I’ll just say the first thing that comes to awareness for me. His continued praises for the food I cook and the house I keep fill give me a calm joy, because I too care about these things and not everyone would appreciate me as much as he does. I also appreciate his friendship which is the deepest and most constant of any I have known.

I’d like to thank my children for filling up my days and nights with not only physical love and incredible tenderness, but their unique brands of humor that make me laugh in delight more than anyone else. I’d like to thank Nels today for sitting at the computer and beginning to hum one of our songs from earlier and then thinking of how much he loved me, because he then said, “Mama, can I get you something? Tea, perhaps?” then went in the kitchen and made me a plate of food quite studiously. As for my daughter, I’d like to thank Phoenix for acquiescing to get groceries for me today, and for finding everything I wrote down, exactly, and for her role in inspiring new dishes as we continue to cook vegetarian. It is my earnest desire to accommodate her wishes.

And finally: it should be rather obvious that by reflecting on ones gratitude list, or the ones that come to mind anyway, life seems a lot lovelier than it did before. I hope others reading here consider doing the same.

al comedor

Drawing, As Per Usual
Phoenix wears the thrifted merino wool sweater I found her and it keeps her warm. Thank goodness for that. Here she draws, as we usually find her. She swings her legs and proprietress Kathi notices her dress and compliments it; later, as we are readying to go, she asks I can sew her an apron (with some very specific requests as to length, style, and fabric). Funny as I was just thinking how much I wanted to sew something for this same woman!

It was very cold today, but we all managed to keep warm. My mother came over for coffee and a long chat. That was fun.

Grave Responsibility
(Small Stone #4*)

Your hand trembles
But you pour my tea from the heavy pot
Taking care of your mama, as you say, “like a gentleman”

Small stone project

late night

Today was a day spent busy and half of it with a girlfriend out on the town; a meal out, drugstore hairdye for J. (an easy pleasure!), then to my mother’s for a shared dinner. Her tenderness towards my children and their ease together is something I often observe but don’t take the measure of. Tonight I’m thinking how much a presence she is with them and will be all their lives. Their knowing her, and vice versa, is a tremendous gift. It’s easy to forget just how fortunate we are.

For now, I’m weary and only have a bit left to write. My day was full and tonight I was able to enjoy the uncomplicated pleasure of taking a very hot bath with some simple castile soap, a steaming washcloth for my face, afterward a rough cotton towel and clean clothes, a glass of cold cold water, slipping into a warm bed next to loved ones.

Small-Minded
(Small Stone #2*)

Genial boundaries:
My attempt to save you from the embarrassment
Of wanting me

Small stone project

humbuggery

The Christmas I was six years old we lived in the bus and I remember worrying how Santa would visit us – we owned no chimney. Even then I’d begun to observe there was something goofy about this whole Santa business. But I remember the shiny, new, and lovely gift I got that year – one of only a handful, and by far the most beloved – Twink, a stuffed-animal (of sorts) from the Rainbow Brite meme. Beautiful, soft, brilliant white and friendly and chosen just for me. I can assure you I believed in magic.

Ralph and I were active in the Christian church a dozen years ago, but I gradually lost the stomach for institutional attendance – for now, at least. Today I’m an agnostic theist who finds great meaning in practices of Christianity and Buddhism and who (still) believes in Jesus’ divinity. As for parenting, our home is probably experienced as one of belief-friendly humanist ethics. So given that, of course, when it comes to this time of year it’s been no trouble to have the, you know, “There is no Santa, kids!” kind of thing going. I copped to my parents’ role in the Santa business soon after Twink and I remember feeling kind of irritated at my mom and dad’s amused smugness over the whole thing.

But over the last decade I’ve also found that children in my life, occasionally my own, like the Santa story and want to believe… Their delight in such a mystery has made me reconsider just why mysteries are good things. Observing the magical thinking, the deep compassion, the free generosity, and the in-the-moment joy of children has humbled me and at times astounded me. Santa will probably always irritate me, but I am beginning to soften. The story of the saint (and other figures like him) is not based in logic and it’s not really a two-dimensional fairytale and it’s not really about greedy consumerism, either.

So even my curmudgeony ass-heart melted a bit when I read this story about the origins of NORAD and their tracking of Santa Claus (the audio is a brief and lovely listen, too), specifically this bit:

“Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa’s whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website.”

This little story brought my inner-Scrooge up short. I’m often saddened about how many adults are deep-down terrified of children and quite limited in their competence and compassion regarding children’s needs. And here this morning, reading this article, I’m reflecting that many grownups are still trying to hold or maybe even reclaim a tender heart.

Ralph and I are fortunate in that our children truly want for nothing material; we have food and clothes and a warm home and all the security one could hope for. I know these are temporary conditions, but corporeal circumstances of relative ease allow us the gift of one another, if we are wise enough to allow that experience. It is true our children want for nothing, but all children need nurture; they are built for it and designed for it and seek it out as instinctively as a new kitten crawls into one’s sweater for something more than just warmth and a heartbeat. This morning I feel entirely grateful for my children because they have taught me so much about the value of compassion and tenderness, practices many in this hardened world are too frightened to commit to.

Behind me my kids sleep in a tangle of arms and legs and weighted down by the massive furry paperweight of kitty Harris; the lights are low and the stockings stuffed and Ralph folds laundry and we await my mother’s arrival. I know under our yuletide tree there will be gifts for me chosen by family and friends; an expression of love in the language of giving. I look forward to these wonderful comforts; more so even I look forward to the experience of my children and the magic they have all through their very Beings.

with that massive special effects budget you figure they could afford more convincing wigs for the male characters

I like living with little kids. Lots of blankets, warmth, laughter, shared food, good smells, snuggles – and our bandaids have Batman on them.

Tonight I walk into the living room and the kids are on the Minecraft server but they’re also getting ready for a bath. Phoenix and Nels are in an oddly grown-up vignette; she stands with her back to him and her eyes onscreen, her hand holding her slippery golden hair off the nape of her neck, as Nels gently unfastens the buttons at the back of her pinafore-style dress. Tears sting my eyes and I want to swoop them both up into my arms. I have this impulse often and the kids don’t always appreciate it so I do my best to refrain. Ralph and I are particularly incensed that Nels insists we do not pinch his bottom (fair enough) but literally runs around in his tiny little boxer briefs flaunting the most pinchable bottom you’ve ever seen (it’s not just us that thinks so; our friend Jasmine commented on this last night).

What a day we had together. We took our errands out around town and the kids helped wipe the incessant condensation off the car windows (hazardous!) until things were finally warm enough. I was innundated with a barrage of questions and conversation openers. Phoenix asked me about methods of birth control (this began with her query, “Mom I only want to have one kid – how can I do that?”, a question that didn’t seem to strike Nels with any particular implications), which then included a recap on erections/”boners”, ovulation, menstruation, etc; then she asked if there were any side effects to any of the drugs I mentioned (this is her first question regarding pharmaceuticals – yay!), and the differences between miscarriage and abortion. Nels listened in to all this and offered his own summaries and helpful suggestions. Phoenix told us she’d grow up and invent a side-effect-free birth control called The Birth Police Officer (FTW!).

A few minutes later as we sat down to snacks in the Safeway deli table section she and Nels began to innundate me with more questions while stripping off their coats and in between running to wash hands and procure napkins and an Odwalla juice to share. This batch of queries included the likelihood of observing and the cosmic mechanism inherant in a solar eclipse, what B vitamins were, which planet was the largest planet, and speculation on the atmospheric makeup of Neptune. I could have used a smartphone and the internet a few times, because not only do I not have all the answers, sometimes I have a shockingly complete lack of any answers. Fortunately I don’t have to put much faith in me as Knower of All Things when I put entire faith in my children as being enthusiastic and relentless Learners and we can just look it up when convenient.

Tonight on my mother’s suggestion Ralph, Phoenix and I went with her to watch Harry Potter and the Film of Interminable Duration. Nels was quite firm that he doesn’t care for the Harry Potter movies so he stayed home and our friend Laurena and daughter Sophiea came over to sort of house/Nels-sit (for a wee bit of Christmas money to boot). It was a great fourway date for us and my favorite part was leaning over to Ralph during the film and cracking wise and making him laugh, a lot. I’m glad he likes me. (Usually)