"… ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."

Today as I walked between my kitchen and living room I came upon the tipping point about our homeschool decision, which was: if I ever decide I want money more than I want our homeschool / family experience, I can always choose money. I am not destined to poverty for life (which is how I sometimes fear my future) just because – for now, and a while at least – I’m choosing not to work outside the home for financial compensation.

But can anyone know how strongly I feel I’m supposed to be hurrying my children along to free babysitting so I can go put my time and brain and body into someone else’s endeavor, so they can give me money, and I can bring it home? Why do I feel this way? Simply because that’s what nearly everyone I personally know is doing. Although this doesn’t match with my or my husband’s goals, I still feel this tremendous pressure to chase investment (in a home, in better cars, in more stuff, in nicer stuff), some outside sense of accomplishment, some way of being smart money-wise so I can have enough that I don’t have to actually count up the bits and think about them.

What I need: mentors. I have been told, oddly it seems sometimes, I am a mentor or at least an inspiration to not a few who read here or know me. And I’m seeking the same in this category of my children’s education and our life as a family. Applicants, do seek me out because I feel decisively like I’m setting on a path few travel and maybe one more importantly: a path my own family of origin did not travel.

I briefly feel such a kinship with and gratitude for my mother when I discuss this with her, later in the day on the phone. I’m saying, “… trying to accept that I won’t be working” when she starts to talk and I add, “well I mean, working for pay.” She interrupts herself to laugh “Yeah really!” aside, under her breath, in the exact we’re-both-knowing-the-same-thing tone she’d use if I mentioned how perfectly sexy Johnny Depp is or said a perfect joke we both know and love. See, she and I know what “work” I really am looking forward to, work I started in on the moment my daughter was born but only get better at and enjoy more (with a few decidedly horrific “off” days, hee hee). My last six years and my future stretch out in a continuum of priorities and newness and love and learning and gratitude that just seems to bloom more and more and give me more energy than any previous endeavors.

It is funny sometimes finding out who I am, as I grow. I’m always a little surprised to find I’m not who people told me I was.

just bring wit me a pair, i will

Last night I spent my gym time (twice a week) in a Family Spinning class, which from what I can tell is about the same as a regular Spinning class but doesn’t include shrill yelling from the instructor – more like, supportive conversation – and does include arguably less obnoxious music (Family night entailed some Christian contemporary pop rather than, blarf, Fergie). I absolutely love to listen to music while bicycling and at least in Spinning it’s entirely safe to do so – if a bit of a sad selection.

I also had a great time, in large part because my two friends Shannon and Jennifer were there. So my normal goofy, snarky humor need not be squelched since I had trusted friends who’ve know me since the eighties and already know I’m a dork. I also found that my time biking with two children and groceries in a bike trailer was still very much with me. I felt sore after Spinning but it didn’t kill me. In fact even at the highest dial point on the bike it wasn’t nearly as hard as pulling Sophie and Nels up Hoquiam’s big bridge.

And on that note, today thanks to a small donation and with post-payday permission from Ralph, I accomplished one of my New Year’s resolutions: I paid off my layaway bike. It awaits me in the garage, about to embark on its maiden voyage. In ideal conditions: cold, wet, and dark. I don’t care. My whole life I have only owned cheap / Walmart bikes. I have been towing my trailer on a borrowed big cruiser of my mom’s with fatass tractor seat. Even if the bike was OK enough to do it, it wasn’t mine. This is mine. It’s new. It’s going to be getting us around. Nels is only slightly smaller than the installed bike seat so it won’t last long, but for a while at least I’ll have him behind me and no trailer when it’s just he and I.

Sophie just left for her first sleepover next door for a birthday party. She took her little green vinyl suitcase. She was rarin’ to go, but kissed us many times to tell us she’d miss us. I am surpressing the urge to stalk the house like the over-involved mother I am. They have a big ol’ dog anyway so it wouldn’t be wise.

counting the days

Today I went to my parents’ house as soon as I was done dropping off kids and fetching groceries. They were just back from the oncologist’s. They’d heard a number. The number represents the amount of time this doctor thinks my father would have if they “did nothing” in terms of medication or treatment. It wasn’t a very big number.

My parents and I sat at the kitchen table and talked about our options, our choices, the time we have left, all the medicine and treatments and our future plans. It was a good conversation; there was a lot of laughing, actually (my father’s insistence on a coffee-can ash receptacle inspiring recitations of scenes from The Big Lebowski). I felt a lot of hope. It’s also sad, and it just stays sad. It doesn’t suddenly one day get poetic or easy or anything.

In the afternoon after Sophie’s first-ever school conference (high marks, natch!) we went back to my parents’ where the children played and snacked while my mom and I baked up a huge amount of pumpkin pies – 24 miniature ones, and one large one – for Sophie’s school tomorrow. As soon as the pies were done we went to a house my mom is interested in buying (a downgrade from the large family house they are currently in). The house itself was a 1916 little cottage in a ghetto / river / industrial corner of town. The yard was amazing and even more so was the owner who’d built the garden – a jack-of-all-trades, an entrepreneur with glass-blue eyes and painter jeans, gesturing excitedly with his cigarette while talking to my father about solar power. He and his partner had formed the most amazing, beautiful garden I’d seen – orchards of cherry, fig, kiwi, pear, apple – bushes of beans and peas and carrots, potatoes, fennel, tomatillos, garlic – I mean literally almost anything you could think to grow. It was a really interesting part of our day. It was really lovely.

i did not realize that movie Microcosmos had a pornographic snail scene and i’ve been letting the kids watch it a lot

Today a minor, but it actually was major, milestone was breached and summited. I was due for my once-a-month bangs and brows treatment at the salon and – due to lack of planning on my part and a concomitant desire to spare my husband a late lunch date childcare surprise – I decided to bring the kids. I also decided this probably was a bad idea; but I was just too tired to beg for help from anyone else to wrangle my children. Echoing in my head as I hustled them up the front steps was a dear friend who recently reported to my husband that our kids were “the best behaved [he’d] ever seen.” OK, a little confidence here.

You have to understand, to leave my kids about a salon for an hour – half of which was in a room getting hot wax applied to my face as I almost fall asleep in the hypnotic torture lamp – is something new. Sophie has been able to be trusted in rooms with knicknacks, sharp scissors, and hot curling irons for a couple years; Nels could not be trusted in a padded cell with a marshmallow. Still, I came prepared; a lunch (for the time I’d be out the room) and a few pointers before we got there as well as some good old fashioned, “If you eat your lunch and don’t make a mess and play with toys only you will get pie” bribery.

It went off fine. My hairdresser T.- a very sweet, lovely lass who instead of children has three high-maintenance and well-loved dogs – even complimented the children as we left. My left eyeball hurt from having to dart it back and forth as I sat facing straight into the mirror for her benefit. But I agreed; they’d done well. And Nels’ last-hour confession of “spitting salad on the floor” (his way to remove a bit of lettuce from his sandwich he didn’t want) was both not understood by T. nor did she see the evidence of this Nottyness before I had a chance to discreetly clean it up.

Two days ago antique shop; today the frame shop and salon. Pretty soon these kids will be raising me.

and the hits keep coming

I would have never have anticipated how going vegetarian would disrupt my family in any way, but it turns out a five year old child notices a lot of stuff and asks a lot of questions. First there was last night, where as we passed the fridge case of hotdogs et cetera I commented – out loud, but almost to myself – I would no longer buy those products as I am a vegetarian.

Sophie asks: “Why?”
Mama (pause): “Because they are mean to the animals before they kill him.” (our family is OK with the killing and my children know this is how it goes down).
Sophie, looking intently into my face with wide-kitten eyes: “Are you nice to animals?”
Mama (nervously): “Well, I guess.”
Sophie, pause, then: “I will be nice to animals too.”
Mama (amused): “Oh, you’re going to be a vegetarian too?”
Sophie (finite): “Yes.”

Very tender, no? THREE MINUTES LATER as we pass the bacon Ralph makes a comment about bacon and Sophie goes nuts:

Sophie (wild, scrabbing motions with her claws): “Bacon bacon I love bacon so much it’s so good! I want some bacon!”
Mama (laughing): “Oh! You just told me you were a vegetarian now.”
Sophie, stunned: “Bacon isn’t meat!” (betrayal, confusion in her eyes)
Mama: “Yes it is.”
Sophie (after a beat): “Bacon is the only meat I eat.”

Now how many adult vegetarians have said the same thing?

And today, on the drive home from school – the issue of McDonalds, which has become an issue since we moved here and was not one before:

Sophie, smiling coyly: “Daddy, I see it.”
Ralph: “Oh, McDonalds?”
Sophie: “Yeah, we should go there!” (As though Ralph had just suggested it!)
Ralph: “You know, I don’t really like their food. It makes me feel sick. I liked their food when I was little but I don’t anymore.”
Sophie: “Oh, daddy. That’s just pretend!”
Ralph: “What’s pretend?”
Sophie: “Real life is not the like movies, daddy.” (oddly, astutely, referring to Fast Food Nation, although we have not given one lecture on the subject but she did watch the film with us).
Ralph: “Unless it is a documentary.”
Sophie (condescending laughter): “Oh daddy! I was just joking.”
Ralph: “If you want to go, find someone to take you, baby.”
Sophie: “It makes Mama sick, too. I know! Grandpa can take me to McDonalds!!!”

A few minutes later at home she is sitting down with Nels and I. “Thank you for lunch,” she tells me as she tucks in (Sophie’s pronunciation of the word is more like “lunkchs” and I will be very sad when she pronounces it correctly). She pauses, soup up to her lips. “Is this a nice lunch?”

I don’t need to elaborate further. This discussion is not one I chose for us but Sophie has grasped the import of my lifestyle change and I’m not sure what to tell her. I am not going to give her a fussy, holier-than-thou vegetarian tirade. Absolutely as a parent it is my choice to not bring certain foods into my home. I mean that is our job; left to their own our children might ask for a steady diet of popcorn, candy and ice cream if we let them. My concern is their accidental misplacement of my moral code as their own and any time this threatens I get nervous, with good reason or without I do not know.

Tonight I made two kinds of vegetarian calzones (recipe pending) and the kids ate up. I know I’m feeding them properly (even well-meaning friends and family have immediately been asking me, “Are you finding your kids protein sources?” I believe because their is an age-old Western bias that being veggie means you are exposing yourself to weakness and disease) I just don’t want them to mistake my preference and choices for theirs.

Hopefully in short order our changes will seem less novel and we can go on like we usually do, existing and cooking and living our lives as fun as we have them.

once i get that key they can’t pry it out of my hand

Today dawns with the type of lovely, sunny, still clear weather that is only recognizable for what it is if you’ve been away from it long enough to acclimatize to something else.

In a few hours my husband and I meet to sign a lease for our new place. Finally. A preview:

The front bedroom, for the kids. Sophie has tried to negotiate for a room of her own. Sorry. Mama’s sewing machine babies get their room, at the expense of my actual children.

Finally, a bedroom with some color to it! P.S. – the blinds actually work in this house! I checked them all.

Sophie goofs off in the living room. No, I did not take Nels on a walk-through – there was a maintenance dude there doing work with sharp tools and such. I shudder to think.

Random, peeling / scrappy paint, here and there and everywhere.

Ralph hates the tile job in the laundry room. Meanwhile I think holy shit, I have a laundry room again, in two days!

On our way out – purple house across the street! Note Ass-tros, facing off.

During our wait for celebratory hot chocolate, Sophie has a meltdown. All-told she was a fabulous house-inspector, engaging Maintenance Man Tom with small talk about Port Townsend and at every drawer opened and closet discovered, enthusing, “This is great!

Only a couple more days. A microcosm to myself – well, almost to myself – again.

gently prying the fingers off my psyche

My life, in boxes. Here my entire love of sewing is represented, compartmentalized. Two of my sewing machines await Moving Day, on the top of my other (main love) machine (tucked away in cabinet).

We moved into this house five-plus years ago. One of the first things we did – I massively pregnant – was to repaint the room for our baby on the way. A couple months ago for the first time we changed the purpose of the room – from my children’s bedroom (Nels had arrived in 2004) – to my sewing room. Today I swept cobwebs out for the last time; took down my homesewn curtains. Tried to feel a “fuck yes!” instead of sadness. Our first home as a family.

Ralph, gleefully removing the expensive, low-energy compact bulbs to take with us, while replacing them with cheap ones. My husband is very sweet. He moves about two-hundred percent of my speed. He accepts that for me, packing one box is emotionally draining. He says things like, “That’s a very good idea!” at any suggestion I have. He gets on chairs to change bulbs and I take a picture of his ass, which I think you’ll agree is most excellent.

After today’s work, the good news: 1 out of 3 of our bedrooms is entirely clean, entirely packed, ready to go. The bad news: I will be having minor panic attacks as I drift in that purgatory for nesters – unable yet to make a new home, dismantling the old.

Nels, on the kitchen counter as Ralph cooks breakfast (photograph by Sophie). He likes robots. He likes bacon and eggs even more. He waits patiently for them.