I am so tired. I sit and dream of taking a nap the baby is sleeping and I just want to curl up nest to her and drift away into oblivion. But I can't. My other two children are playing outside and it may be just be the teensiest bit irresponsible to leave them completely unsupervised while I rest instead of watching them through the window. I toyed with the idea of putting on something for them to watch so I could nap. The problem is that I stated very firmly and dictatorially that they would not be watching any shows this week in response to a temper tantrum when I said no to a show on Monday. I just painted myself into a corner.

Why am I so tired? Why that's an excellent question. I'm so glad you asked because I have a fun story to tell. Sort of. Okay, maybe it's not fun,, or even all that interesting but it's the best I can come up with today. My mom doesn't have a computer, she needed to type and send a very important letter and she needed to do it soon. I volunteered, if she couldn't find a friend to borrow a computer from to type it out for her. Now, My mom lives in Canada, very far away, but now we both have unlimited calling and so we talk a lot. So last night I typed as she dictated her letter over the phone. Only it was a three page letter, a very densely worded three page letter, and it was 12:30 am when I finished typing it. I would then be emailing it to the person it needed to go to.

The Genius Husband, who is very smart, and happens to know a lot about writing these kinds of things, immediately weighed in once I hung up. (I keep telling him he should write a blog, or a book, or something and he keeps responding "Silly wife, I have to work so that you have food to eat, I don't have time to write." To which I sometimes unwisely respond "But what about all that time you spend catching up on the X-files on DVD?" Usually I'm smarter than that though.) My dear insomniac husband, full of energy, picked the letter to itty bitty pieces and then helped me to put it back together again and this time it was much better, only one page, and might even accomplish it's purpose. It was 2:30am when that was done. I have no idea when he went to bed. So I called her this morning and read the new letter over the phone and she was happy and grateful and I was glad to do it. But now I just want to sleep.


Too much of a good thing

Can you have too much of a good thing? Well, if that good thing is single origin dark chocolate, 75% cocoa mass, and you are my children then yes, it's entirely possible to have too much.

This morning in a not entirely unprecedented fit of naughtiness the Boy climbed onto the kitchen counter reached his now long enough arms over the top of the fridge and opened mommy and Daddy's secret cupboard, the place where we keep all of the alcohol, and the chocolate, so they kids can't/couldn't reach it. He took out an almost full box of individually wrapped squares of chocolate, probably at least a pound, maybe 2. He and the Girl proceeded to gorge themselves while I lay blissfully unaware due to a late night with the Baby. They hid all of the wrappers too in his room. They may have gotten away with it because I don't go into that cupboard everyday, but the Girl is still blissfully sweet and honest and woke me up to tell me that they had eaten all of the chocolate, after it was gone of course.

Two pounds of chocolate later, the girl went to lay down in her bed and then puked chocolate out into the bucket I had fortunately had the foresight to place next to her. Then she did it again. Then she fell asleep at 11am and slept for several hours. I hope she's learned her lesson.

The Boy, alas, was only mildly affected. But then he ate the breakfast I made him, and the Girl didn't. He complained of feeling ill as well and laid down to rest and then still had to finish school before going out to play this afternoon. I was decidedly unsympathetic.


A tiny funeral

Today the Girl found a baby bird laying in the dirt. It was directly below a swallow nest tucked under the eaves 3 stories up. It was perfectly formed; a miniature beak and tiny little wings and feet and small enough to lay in the palm of the Girl's little hand. When I turned it over the translucent skin of it's belly was distended and purple from internal bleeding. The poor little bird had tottered to close to the edge of her home and and fallen to her death. (The Girl insists that it was a baby girl bird because when she was looking at it it had no penis.)

We looked up and saw a bird peering out over the top of the roof. I imagined it was a mama bird looking for her lost baby, her child who had vanished from her home. I know it was just a baby bird, so tiny and fragile, but it made me want to hold my babies tight and never let them wander away from home, ever.

We dug a hole in one of our big planters and laid the little bird to rest. I told the kids that it's body would gradually rot and turn back to dirt and feed our plants. That the birds death would turn to life again in a different form. The Boy worried about the bird all afternoon. "It's sad that that little bird died mommy, it's still sad." He didn't want us to forget about the tiny tragedy that had interrupted our afternoon, he's the type who doesn't easily return to the easy forgetfulness of everyday life. Sometimes I wish he could forget, I want him to be happy and carefree. Sometimes I feel guilty that I have forgotten so much and am grateful that he reminds me. It's when I remember that I am grateful for the blessings I have.



Water runs down his body in glistening beads as he emerges from the pool. Tanned golden skin continuously sliding across the rippling backdrop of taut muscles, every one defined as if etched in marble. He pulls at the bright orange water wings that wrap around his upper arms and shakes water out of his dark blond hair. Watching him with identical blue eyes is a girl with a halo of white gold hair sitting on a deck chair nearby. She laughs as he dances in front of her and makes silly sounds. Water sparkles scattering brilliant shards of the late afternoon sun and I marvel as I watch them that such perfect bodies were born of mine; were once inside of me and are intimately connected to me. I feel that I could become addicted to this mystery, this miraculous privilege of bearing life. I wonder how it could even occur to me to complain about my role in such a breathtaking creation. I pray to be worthy of such an honor as this.


The Housedress, revisited

Do you remember when I was lamenting the demise of the house dress? Okay, probably not because I'm the only one who obsesses about things I consider problems needing to be solved until I find a solution. Except for the house dress, I found another person who laments it's demise as well.

Well, I think I have an easy affordable solution, everyone ready?

Ta da! It's a kurta. They're woven cotton, they're breathable, they're flattering and come with 3 inches of adjustable seams. I already have one that I wear on hot days and I love it. But only recently did I realize that it's a practical work garment for my Indian friends, at least the plainer ones are. I can wake up in the morning, pull one of these over my head and get to work, and I'll feel pretty and ready for the day. And the best part is, if you go here you can buy some for less than $15 each in whatever color you want, though I have no idea what shipping costs. Or you can get them at the thrift stores near the Indian section of major cities which is where I got the few I already own.

Unless of course you're really attached to this look. In which case they're on sale and today is your lucky day.


6 months

It's already been half a year since you were born. Why does the time fly away so quickly these days?

You can now sit for at least minute before you lose your balance and topple over onto your side. You like to grab at my face and try to eat it. Actually, you try to eat everything. You're finally rolling from back to front, but mainly when you are angry. I confess, sometimes we let you get a little frustrated just so you can find out what you can do when you try. I hope you don't mind to much. You see, frustration is critical to the human experience, and you will encounter it many times, but that moment when you push past it or around it to get what you want is a great moment that helps you to grow like nothing other can. So we will let you get frustrated you you can figure out things by yourself. But don't worry we'll help when you need it, it will be a long time before we'll leave you alone. You can move yourself around on the floor now, usually by backing yourself into a corner and then yelling because you can't go forward to get out.

You love it when I lay you on your belly and rub your back, you smile until I stop. You smile all the time actually, at everyone, especially yourself in the mirror and other babies. You like to suck on paper and try to grab and eat all of the mail before I can get it inside. It's a little contest we have now, how many pieces of paper can you grab and mangle before I can read them?

You are all eyes and smiles. Those eyes now look exactly like daddy's. Brown in the center and fading to bright blue on the outside ring. Right now you are lying on the floor sucking on your toes, and making happy talking sounds.

You've started to watch us very closely. You pull in back in surprise and delight when I put something in my mouth, you are fascinated with eating. You try to talk back to us, you are obviously pleased when we imitate your gurgles and gargles. "At last, they're starting to sound intelligent, I may still be able to train these big clumsy bipeds to obey me." You berate us severely when we get things wrong, letting us no how very displeased you are.

I love that you have started to rub your face against my chest and lean on me when you start to get tired. One minute I'm carrying you around in the sling and you are staring at everything and the next you are fast asleep, without a sound. You still sometimes fall asleep draped over my arm as I hold you around your waist facing out. When you were less than a month old you fell asleep that way in Trader Joe's and every single person who saw you melted at your cuteness. You're getting kind of heavy to hold that way now, so the days of you falling asleep while I carry you around and do things one handed may end in a very short time.

I don't take enough pictures of you. I'm sorry. I have hundreds of your brother before he was 6 months, but of you I have maybe 50. I'm worse now than with the Girl. My brain is messed up, I keep thinking I want to wait to take pictures until I get the digital camera I'm coveting. I forget that you are not going to be this way forever and I will miss this if I wait. I especially need to get your smile recorded because it's so incredible. Your wide toothless grin and eyes so incredibly bright seem to make even the worst problems fade away. I hope you still like to hang out with me and give me kisses for a long time yet.



Sense and Scensitivity

There's a terrible smell in my fridge. No one else can smell it but every time the fridge closes it wafts around our apartment. It reminds me of rotten garlic. The last time this happened was last summer and I was pregnant. I asked my Milly to clean it out for me because I was vomiting whenever I stuck my head in the fridge. She tried, but I could still smell it after she was done. It didn't go away, we just moved to a new apartment.

This could mean one of three things.
  1. I'm pregnant again. Which would be hysterical, and I don't mean funny.
  2. I have a really sensitive nose.
  3. I'm lousy at cleaning out my fridge.
  4. I cook with garlic too much.
What do you think?



So I have a shiny new gmail address over there in the sidebar. If you want to e-mail me you now can, and no Charity Grace I still can't see your address so could you please send me an e-mail? Thanks.

So comments are still wide open to anyone so you can comment without any extra hassle. That's all for today folks, I'm off to make some mango "ice cream" for dessert. And call my dad.


Where my brain has been

I asked Milly to take the Boy and the Girl today so that I can get caught up on some much needed work, like laundry, (I need to walk to the laundromat to get it done) and sorting through closets and getting rid of stuff we don't need, or don't have room for in this crowded little space.

I think I'm going to get rid of all of the Girl's pants and shirts. It's been two weeks since she's worn anything but a dress, except yesterday when she wore pants under a dress because it was too short to wear on it's own. The week she was born I got over my hatred of the color pink, which is a good thing because she naturally gravitates toward it with no encouragement from me. It's actually fascinating to watch her choose colors that she thinks are pretty and then realize that those are the best colors for her skin tone.

How did she become such a girly girl? I have no idea except that she was born that way. Just as the Boy was born loud and fast and aggressive. I say pooh to anyone who still asserts that there is no inherent gender difference and that we nurture them to be boys or girls.

Now I'm switching subjects, because I have nothing else to say about that. I'm thinking about making it so that you have to login to see a comment. Not because I get spam because I haven't yet, but so I can respond to some of your comments by e-mail. Over this past year I have been left some amazing, touching, heart breaking even comments in my inbox and can't do anything about it because it's from noreplycommentblogger. And since I have grown to love you guys so much, I thought I'd like to respond every so often. Yes I could do it here, but you may not come back to read them later, and well, I suck at that.


I've been trying to write this post all week and I keep losing momentum and forgetting what I wanted to say. It's been busy, I've been rearranging furniture and sorting through closets in order to make room for furniture and pictures from Uncle Gordon's estate. For a while it felt pretty crowded and tiny in here, more than usual. I've been feeling homesick for Canada all week. The top of San Jacinto, where we scattered his ashes, totally without permission of course, is alpine forest. It's amazing in the space of a 5-10 minute trolley ride to go from desert floor to cool sunny forest breezes. It felt like summer in the country of my childhood, and it felt so lovely. My SIL and BIL are traveling to Canada next week to spend the summer there working for a family friend in her super cool coffee shop and gift shop that serves that yachters in the Salt Spring Islands. You can only get there by boat. I wish I could go with them. I can't decide if this sudden fondness for Canada is because I can't go, and it's human nature to want what we can't have, or if I just miss it. Probably both. I don't like being the one to sit and watch everyone else go all the time.

My MIL called me this morning to tell me about her new bra. "It makes me look like a girl again." she gushed, you have to go and try one on. So of course I'm going to because nursing boobs are well, too large and pendulous for my preference, and because this bra is called "the minimizer".

Scene from a play date this week. The Boy and his friend are beating on each other with pillows and wrestling and punching and having an all round boisterous good time. The girl rushes out of the bedroom, where I've helped her change into a dry dress after she got the other one wet, and jumps on top of the pile of boys and pillows exclaiming, "THE PRINCESS IS HERE!"



June 2007 Perfect Post Awards

Before I became a mother I thought I'd be really good at it. I imagined myself as this patient and gentle person who would always listen to her children and wisely dole out justice and mercy to my adoring brood. Then I had children. I held on to this imaginary persona for a while, but as more children were added it gradually slipped away and I am faced with the reality of who I am.

I am not a good person, I'm not all that patient, and I'm not very gentle. I get angry, I'm astoundingly selfish, I feel sorry for myself all the time. There are days, weeks even, when I play the perfect mother very well. But when the heat is on and I am at the end of my strength the ugly mommy comes out to play. I feel fury erupting in me because they dared to wet the bed again, through a diaper. I resist the urge to grab their little bodies and shake some sense into them, I feel the edge creep into my voice as I get louder and louder when I talk to them. I just want them to go away and leave me in peace. In these moments I can feel myself almost hating the ones I love so much. It's a paradox that holds me in it's grip; how I can love so fiercely and harbor such violent resentment all at the same time.

I think this is one of the ways in which my children are blessings. They force me into a recognition of my own weakness, my failure, which is helpful if I want to grow. At the same time I am humbled, humiliated sometimes, by the way they adore me. They are still at the age when I can make everything better with a hug a kiss and some of my undivided attention. That of course is one of the things that drives me to the edge. Undivided attention is difficult to give when everyone wants and needs it at once. I feel the pulling in me, the need to do it right, to get everyone taken care of individually and the desire to retreat to somewhere in my head and snap in irritation when they interrupt by calling me, over and over again.

I find it frustrating and annoying when they ask me to do things for them that they can do for themselves. Perhaps because I suspect it's a way to try and get my attention when they feel that it's lacking, and I feel guilty because of it. Or maybe it's because I'm nursing the baby, she's drifting off to sleep and you don't need me to help you to go potty because you know how to do it yourself. No, don't stand there in the hallway screaming "Mommy, I need help." until you pee all over yourself and the carpet, go and use the toilet like you've been doing since you were 18 months old.

It doesn't sound like much of a blessing I know. The thing is, when I surrender, when I give in to this role, when I allow myself to be moved by their need, their total attachment, I turn into that mommy that I dreamed I could be again. All I need to do is deny myself, turn off the poor me will you give me just one second to myself speech that runs on autopilot through my brain, and suddenly the answer comes. Somehow, when I let go of my selfish anger, I can see clearly to the end and get through it. It's as though my self absorption prevents what Anne Lamott calls Spirit from entering and bringing life.

A few weeks ago I was tearing my hair out and yelling at the top of my voice. I was trying to make dinner. My tired and hungry children kept fighting and screaming, picking at each other, clinging to me, pulling at my side and screaming "I want a hug, I want you to hold me", pulling at my body, my clothes, the baby I was holding, the spoon I was stirring hot food with and I found myself fantasizing about duct taping them to their beds until dinner was ready so I could finish. Maybe they'd fall asleep while they were there. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes, tried to ignore the child dragging at my shirt and the loud half fake crying from the other one, and prayed the most profound prayer on record. "I can't do this. Help."

I opened my eyes looked at each of them and started, "Once upon a time..." Suddenly they were completely silent. They ran to sit down and stared at me expectantly as I continued, "there was a beautiful princess, and a very brave knight..." I made up a very non-brilliant fairy tale that held them captivated because I made it about them of course, and I made it last all the way until dinner was ready and we sat down to eat. They were too entranced to fight with each other or to cry and scream and to get in my way in the kitchen. It was magic, or something more.

Every time I actually remember to surrender and ask for help, it is forthcoming. It's not what I fantasize about. No one comes and takes my kids for a while so I can have a break. No one gives me a lot of money so I can bring my husband home earlier to be with us more. My children don't suddenly stop wetting the bed or spilling their drinks on the carpet. But I am more patient, more gentle, more creative, and more like the person I want to be, and we get through. And gradually I can feel inside of me a tugging and adjusting, a slow work of transformation that will go on as long as I'm around to renovate. I hope I will be pretty in the end.


Because Every Solution is Temporary

Today I put socks on the Boy's feet and then wrapped them in several layers of duct tape. He looked like he was wearing silver ballet slippers, but I didn't tell him that, I told him they looked like spaceman shoes. His way too small but all that he has runners had been abducted by his daddy; taken against their will in the foot well of the car were they had been abandoned by the barefoot loving boy. This isn't usually a problem except today we were getting on a bus to ride downtown to buy, of all things, shoes. I'm usually happy to let him run around barefoot where we live, but I'd rather he didn't encounter city streets unshod, call me crazy.

I'm pleased to report that duct tape shoes seem to keep feet safe. They are however very goofy looking, and not that easy to remove when trying on new shoes. Once we got them off I realized that we had to buy shoes before we left that store, or he'd be walking home barefoot. I hadn't thought to bring a roll of duct tape with me.

It's always an adventure taking the bus with my kids. Today, with the boy all covered in mosquito bites from his camping trip looking like he has a case of 5-year-old acne and wearing his cut off shorts and unbuttoned shirt to accent the duct tape shoes, we were an interesting entourage. I like the way we get to know our community and meet people on the bus. We meet far more interesting people this way and have conversations we would otherwise not have had. Of course, the conversation I was having at the stop on our way home caused me to not notice that I was boarding the wrong bus. We went on a little trip through a pretty part of town that I have never seen before. It looked so all American, a baseball diamond, and pretty old houses with flower boxes on the windows set against the mountains in the distance. Well, they call them mountains here, they're more like large foothills all covered in rocks. I grew up next to the Rockies so I have trouble calling these bumps, however pretty and scenic, mountains.

We got home late; tired and hungry, with spider man sandals and skate shoes that fit. I'm so glad that they make skate shoes wide. The boy has my problem of a very high instep and normal runners don't fit at all.

This Saturday we go to Palm Springs to scatter the remains of Uncle Gordon. He finally passed last Friday, right after the family gathered to say goodbye one last time. It fascinates me how some people seem to be able to decide when they're done and then kick the bucket almost at will. I wonder if it's because they can feel that they're dying and so tell everyone they're going to, or if they can decide. Uncle Gordon told everyone to come on Friday, instead of Saturday as planned, and it seems as though he was just waiting to see everyone one last time and then depart. We are going to take the big tram up the to the top of the mountain named after some saint whose name escapes me, and scatter his ashes from the highest point as he requested. Then we are going to go through his things and decide what to keep and what to sell.

It's so business like in some ways, this process of leaving your body behind. The people left behind have a lot of work to do to deal with everything you've accumulated in your passage through this world. In Uncle Gordon's case it includes several very nice antiques and a baby grand piano that would unfortunately take up my entire living room so my sister in law is keeping it instead. But I am keeping his music collection, because he loved to sit and play through his show tunes at that piano, and no one else wants them.

In a way it makes me think of a bus ride. We sit next to people, and learn a little bit about them, we pass through each other's lives entering and exiting and connecting along the way. Eventually everyone has to get off and where that door leads we can only know through faith. But hopefully we leave the people still riding a little happier and better because they knew us. Hopefully they will remember us fondly and be a living legacy. Hopefully they'll take care of our stuff too, since we won't need it anymore. This life is after all only temporary.


Slowing back down

There is a trick that musicians use when practicing in order to get better at performing difficult pieces. We speed it up so that we’re playing it way faster than we’ll ever have to play it for an audience and we practice it at that speed for a while until we get used to it. Then we slow it back down to the right speed and suddenly it feels easy, our fingers move with grace across the keys and the music comes out smoothly, seemingly without effort. I wish I could do that with kids.

This past weekend the Boy went with the Genius Husband on a boys and dads only camping trip. He had a blast. I spent the weekend with my two girls and it seemed so easy to only have two again to deal with. Bed times went smoothly, so did breakfast and getting ready for church.

It wasn’t until last night when I was once again struggling to deal with juggling three short people and maneuvering them all into bed that I realized just how hard these last several months have been in dealing with three rather than two. At the same time I realize that just one child was difficult at one point and now feels refreshingly simple. I also realize that if I’d spent the last several months dealing with 4 or 5 children on a daily basis my three would seem like a rest right now also. I’m fascinated by how I’m able to adapt to things simply because it needs to be done, and I wish I could speed up real life in order to slow it down again later.

Since I can’t, I really hope that I can at least maintain this perspective and rise to meet the challenge of each day as I get it knowing that only as I live through it will I become strong enough to deal with it.


Because the other post is missing

I wrote a post, but I seem to have misplaced it.

This week I started seriously hunting down ideas to make money from home. I had no idea there was so much free information available on the Internet. Of course, I can't actually work until I get my paperwork out of the way, but I started to explore options.

Last night I sent a writing sample to an organic food type of company looking to launch a new website. It was my first time applying for a freelance writing job, though I did a short stint as a copy writer the year before I married the Genius Husband. I did not think my first ever application would even be noticed.

I got a response, a positive response. They liked my writing and wanted to know how much I charge. I'm so excited, and depressed all at once. Excited because it seems as though I may be able to pull this off, writing for money I mean, and depressed because I can't technically do it yet. I'm hoping I can talk them into paying me in food, lots of high end organic food products, on a regular basis, until I'm allowed to work. I could pay the grocery bill that way at least.
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