A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Category Archives: funny/special moments

Life as Pictures…when the day gives you beaches

Little Man has been five for a couple of months now. I’d had visions that he would take part in some kind of summer day camp and learn to swim in such a program. But, alas, he is not potty trained…a permanent life motto should be Plan “E” is the new “A.” A friend recommended this lake beach to me last year, but I was too anxious to consider it at the time. It’s a good deal for both the pass and lessons, and she raved about the cleanliness and general positive environment. But, I don’t like outside. I especially don’t like beaches, and I extra specially don’t like new routines. Combine them together, and it didn’t happen. I don’t think I even had a good excuse for it. But, that hasn’t stopped my Mom Guilt from overtaking me. Kids love a beach, so this year I pulled up my big girl pants and registered for their two weeks of daily lessons and the summer beach pass.

But, the process had been dragging out after I made the decision, and just wanted to be done with arranging it…but the town was taking their sweet time, which gave me the opportunity to ruminate further on something that was inherently making me exceptionally anxious. Even when we were registered and things were purchased, I was anxious with anticipation. I never made a dry run prior. I had no idea where I was going. I had no idea of the set-up. I didn’t really know what I needed. And, I still don’t like to be outside. And, there was also this vague thought nagging me that this was a waste of money and too good to be true…Surely I need to mortgage our house or utilize our children’s college fund to have my son learn to swim in one of these custom kid swimming places that require me to (gasp) wear a swimsuit and wade into the pee pool!

The morning started out efficient. I even decided to not exercise in the morning to ensure I didn’t have any weirdness with my timing. I usually don’t, but I didn’t want to pressure myself with my schedule of exercising throughout the day…requiring even more showers for a mommy with terribly sensitive skin, and an unpredictable nap with the kids. Keep it simple was what I was going with, and first thing in the morning that deceptively worked…until the directions my husband gave me took us to the same lake as where we needed to go, but the actual beach for the next town over.

I ended up at the first beach ten minutes early. After a tremendously long and steep schlep up a hill, it was lovely. The kids having a ball, and I prided myself in getting there despite the entire town under construction. But, time ticked, and no one was there. I started to worry. And, then I looked out over the water, and saw a second beach that suddenly was populated. I hurried to my bag to realize that we were now fifteen minutes late for the lesson that was occurring at another beach.

I swear. I hustle the kids. They were understanding and accommodating as Little Man narrated the events of my fuck up…something he does best, which is endearing until it’s on a loop for thirty minutes. They are soaked and confused. I’m bullshit, and screaming at my husband because I tried to get to the other beach, but couldn’t find it. Mind you, I’ve only been in this state with my husband once before…It was a blizzard when we were newly sort of living together. I was heading out to join him for his work party. My car in his garage, but the snow was piled on the driveway before the condo plow people had an opportunity to remove the snow. My now husband, then boyfriend had not seen the state of his drive, told me to, “just punch it,” which I did, and subsequently was stuck with only half my car out of the garage. In dress pants and a waning blizzard, I dug out my car. It’s funny now…a little over fifteen years later.

So, now my anxiety, that had been mellowing, was spilling out of every conceivable pore without relief, but he got us there. Fortunately the same age group had another class for Little Man later…not that I wanted to be at the beach so long, but that’s what a Plan E is all about.

As I do with almost all things that make me anxious, I plan a menu of some sort. What better beach fair exists than pasta salad? Actually, I have no idea. I hate the beach, and can’t remember the last time I went, except it was pre-kids and I was probably disgruntled about it as I spend days ridding myself of sand from my unmentionables. I’m generally proud of my pasta salads, but must say that this one was probably among my best…pretty good when my strategy was to buy whatever shit that seems like it vaguely fit with the hope that this beast would last the week. It turns out that I’m not the only one impressed. Little Man enjoyed it so much that he asks for another helping about every ten minutes. Aside from the green beans, he eats most everything in it. That surprised me as he’s never been a pepper or cucumber fan. He didn’t quite clean his container, but it came close. I’m not sure how he selected which items he would leave for me, as he didn’t completely refuse to eat any one item entirely. That said, I prefer this mystery to some of the others my kids gift me.

It’s remarkable how much I’ve grown in the past five years. As much stuff as I hauled for this first trip to the beach, it’s probably half the amount I used to when Little Man was a baby. Another notable difference is that I mostly used everything. It was such a chaotic beginning to the day that yielded us staying much longer than I’d planned…and realizing upon arrival that I didn’t have everything required to keep me comfortable and avoiding a rash from too much sun exposure…I didn’t change the kids before heading home. They both mostly sat half-naked in their car seats because I was done and needed a nap by the end. But, shout-out to the other moms who had their shit together, and my friend who allowed Warrior Queen to pilfer her entire snack collection. I seriously don’t know where she puts all the food she eats.

Warrior Queen enjoyed her digging, but I can’t say that there are any non parent delights with her process. The above picture was her when there was no toy phone or Hello Kitty ice cream to consume her attention. Mr. Man, however, spent two days diligent at work. The first, pictured above, he built a “beaver dam” he excitedly used to experiment with water flow. Day two it was lava, which is not a surprising story-line for him these days. Among other obsessions, I find myself learning ALL about volcanoes and lava…earthquakes…environmental catastrophes associated with climate change and global warming. This is in addition to his human body fixations, and all possible ailments one might encounter…like cancer. Believe it or not, but I very quickly reach my limit agreeably discussing all the ways in which one might develop and die from various cancers. Sometimes these two interest areas intersect…like this morning when environmental destruction led to dying from skin cancer…in case anyone were interested in inviting us over for a party.

I was playing around with trying to appear artistic while also wanting to guarantee I had images to document this day for my blog. But, in addition to noting that I’m mostly well hydrated and in a constant state of needing to pee, I want to take this moment in self-admiration for managing to find a pair of sandals for Little Man without diving too profoundly into our ice-cream truck fund. Kid shoe shopping is a process that really should be reserved for its own circle of hell…if I believed in such a place. But, frankly, I rank finding both kids shoes between stubbing my toe and bra shopping. It was terrible, but while I still need to get Warrior Queen something better than the shoes pictured…preferably something that doesn’t leave her feet grotesquely black and impossible to clean, I managed a pretty decent pair for Little Man…I’m waiting for these bastards to disintegrate when they hit the water. So far their maiden voyage had them sitting in the sun. The second day equal use. But, while I need to try to locate a spare set for him, and two for Warrior Queen, I can’t stomach it at the moment.
This fella…or fell-ette decided to join me today on this second beach day that whispered rainstorms to come. At first I was a little freaked…do butterflies bite or anything with their tube eating things? But, life is all about risks, right? And, this risk ended up as a total diva…chillaxing on my pastyness for all the surrounding kids to gawk. It flew away shortly after they became bored and returned to their digging and general festivities. I guess I can’t please everyone all of the time, but not gonna lie…a butterfly confusing me with something flower-like is not a bad way to spend a morning.
Advertisements

Where did the giant go?

I don’t usually have cause to write about Warrior Queen exclusively these days. I chew on that often, and I don’t have a good answer. Usually there is something noteworthy about both kids for each post, or the focus on Little Man because he is older with a smattering of atypical development periodically worth mentioning.

Little Man is in his four-year-old preschool program three mornings a week. Warrior Queen is enrolled two, so we spend some moments together as a twosome. I mention it often, but it merits repeating. She’s such a fierce, feisty sprite of a girl…so much character and personality.

It makes her angry, but I can’t help myself. In the car she will start to nod off, and I’ll ask her repeatedly if she’s tired.

“I’M NOT TIRED!”

“Are you sure? You seem tired.”

“NO! I’m not tired anymore!”

“Are you just grumpy?”

“I’M NOT GRUMPY!”

“Are you sure?”

“I promise.”

I could do that to her all day, which probably makes me a terrible person, but I can’t help myself. A side benefit is that the exchange keeps her awake when we are dangerously close to quiet time and moments from pulling into the garage. Warrior Queen seems to only scuttle to oblivion a mile from home no matter how long the journey, and those few minutes of sleep will make her a total asshole who will forgo her nap altogether. Some time ago she successfully climbed out of her crib. I’d deluded myself that such a sleeping arrangement would persist until high school, but, alas, I heard a ruckus above me, and proceeded to yell at Little Man who was actually in his room, staggering out confused. Warrior Queen was on the floor prone with her blankie over her head. She looked up at me and grinned. Thus began the first sleep in a toddler bed. The transition was much better than I feared…Isn’t that always the way? A bit more coordination, but sleep manages to happen. I’m finally well, which means exercise can happen too.

Warrior Queen has all kinds of things to say, and I love her imagination. Much of the time she tells me stories, “There’s a monster coming!” She isn’t scared; it’s just a story. She’s only two-and-a-half, so the plot leaves much to be desired, but I can see the gears turning. One day the stories will be something to behold!

Another favorite of which I don’t understand the origins. I’ll tug a shirt over her head, and as soon as her face escapes the confines of the material, she’ll squeak, “I’m a pickle!” Subsequently, the remaining portions of her head will push through the opening.

My spirited girl is always the assertive one; I admire that about her. She was walking throughout the kitchen and family room wielding a bowl of cereal with milk despite my less than gentle urging to eat at the table. Predictably she has an accident with the contents of said bowl. Probably also predictably is that the milk spilled over our heat vent…when the heat kicked on for good measure. I’m a terrible housekeeper, so I would assume that the smell of baby vomit might not be as jarring as a normal person would expect. “It will dissipate,” has become a kind of life motto for me these days. My husband cleans the situation as best he could. Warrior Queen with a thinly replenished supply continues to eat. My husband and I look down at her waiting for another accident as we rehash the previous moment’s events. As we mostly ignored her, mindlessly chatting to each other, she shifts her attention away from the precariously tipped bowl to look at us and says, “I’m still mad about it.”

I discussed the playgroup we’ve been attending at a local library. There is some kind of director who works there. I don’t know what he does or his name, but Warrior Queen is captivated by his existence. He’s an enormous fellow, and my daughter refers to him as a giant. She doesn’t want to meet him, but every time we pass the main desk, Warrior Queen asks, “Where did the giant go?” She will hover in her spot at the foot of the stairs waiting to see if he will appear. And, it takes a good deal of convincing to move her onward when his office is dark and empty. Stomping our ascend she continues to ask me the same questions about his whereabouts that I can’t answer. I’m usually left with the distinct impression that she is unsatisfied with my responses, and doesn’t completely believe me. Sometimes she stops midway looking at me as though his presence will spontaneously generate from my rather large bag like some kind of weird library programming magic trick. She gives every inclination to want to approach him for some kind of conversation like she would with most people. But, when a desk librarian asked if she wanted to meet him, my fierce girl decisively said, “No,” immediately leading the way out the door and to the car.

Life as Pictures…twosomes

I was all set to finish a couple of other posts and realized that I haven’t created this format for a bit…I like to mix it up.

The a-bit-older-than-two-and-a-half Warrior Queen and a-bit-older-than-four-and-a-half Little Man love to play with each other more than just about anything. The other night my son taking a bath. His sister apparently tall enough to climb in on her own had ripped off her diaper once again to join her brother…streaking has been her thing the past couple of weeks, and good luck catching her to replace the diaper she’d rather not wear. My husband and I watched them giggling as they tuned out the world. We have this random assortment of rubber duckies that must have been re-gifted to us throughout the years. The kids were using a couple of them to suck up the water and spray each other…or Little Man was anyway. Warrior Queen tried, but eventually her inefficiency yielded that she allow her big brother to monopolize the effort, and she loved every spray of it…busting in a hearty laugh as he did. I’m sure the flatulence-like noise urged the ruckus. Can’t say I disagree. As much as I redirect potty themed jokes, there is truly something hilarious about a solid tushie horn, even rubber toy inspired.

We are often together as a threesome, but three mornings a week Little Man has school. Shortly Warrior Queen will attend two mornings herself, and I will be without child for a few hours. My son and I don’t have nearly as many outings together, though we have moments smattered throughout the day. I sometimes forget to document these events, and then they fall to our collective history.

20181212_111232

I take Warrior Queen to a library play group that she mostly loves. She will inquire about seeing the guy running it for days prior, but at the last moment becomes shy. She’s pretty big into men in general, but this particular person isn’t really her type. He’s a bit odd…nice, but odd. Regardless he holds this special magic for her, and she tracks him in the room even if she won’t actually speak to him. That’s also a surprising kind of thing. Warrior Queen isn’t usually coy with her greetings. She also isn’t usually reserved in a crowd or struggles to detach from my lap in public whatsoever. Lately she’s been super snugly with me at pretty much all times anyway, but it was notched to eleven this particular day.  Maybe it was because there were some older rowdy boys in attendance doing their rowdy boy thing? I have to say that as disappointed as it was that I couldn’t manage some work on the afghan, I soak in this kind of contact whenever offered. At some point these moments will cease to be. Even though my fierce sprite has been sick, waking from her nap grumpy and feeling lousy, I savor its implications. Mommy is the only answer for her, even falling asleep on me the other night when she awoke an hour too early from her snooze. Her favorite position it seems is to curl into my warmth with her head on my chest, arms pulling me closer. I think she likes listening to my heart…always has. She has a gentle snore to her sleep, and I get lost in my strokes to her cheek and hair. It doesn’t matter how badly I need to use the restroom, I always hope for a few moments more.

20181223_113355

Little Man and I spent the rare day out together while my husband and Warrior Queen remained home in their sickly state. I’d promised him one venue too far from home, and upped the ante with a first ever arcade trip closer to the homestead, hoping it would entice him enough to switch gears…It did, which is not always the case. It probably took a good chunk from the college fund to pay for this outing, but totally worth it, crashing market be damned! Mr. Man immediately drawn to the indoor mini golf so easy that one would think I could fair quite well. I didn’t actually try, my best effort to ensure my son had ample time to play…and frankly I wasn’t sure he would finish one of the most points expensive attractions offered. For my part, I have subterranean levels of a competitive edge to my disposition, and an even more pathetic spacial ability. While he fumbled a great deal, I feel endlessly convinced I would have embarrassed myself in record making proportions, as I’d be totally owned by a preschooler no matter my concentration or effort. But, I like to think I’m a reasonably involved parent; I tried to teach Little Man the grip and stance…I clearly failed. But, he had fun, and we moseyed to the next distraction in an entirely too loud expansive room.

20181223_115225

It’s kinda a thing how little athletic talent my family has from its various circles. My son is mostly no exception, but I give him profuse efforts for trying. Swipe after card swipe, Little Man delighted at shooting his hoops…eventually managed to swish some in. But, increasingly it became apparent that he was more captivated by the mechanism of the ball release. This is a timed game, but he’d periodically stop to evaluate how this particular machine functions. With remaining seconds, Little Man would stop his ball tossing, jumping, and flailing to bend over and watch the machine trap the balls. But, sometimes it wouldn’t, so I could see him puzzle such things to the point of me reminding him he could still try to score more points…or tickets or whatever. Toward the end he was doing well, no longer launching the balls outside of the contraption or behind the basket never to be seen until an additional ball landed on top of it, knocking the stuck one back into circulation. Little Man, the embodiment of effort rewarded…I should have created a meme…if I knew how to do such a thing. But, then he figured the machinery to his specific undisclosed standards, and he was abruptly off to another flashing mechanism. I halted his momentum, so he could finish the allotted time. He immediately threw his heart and excitement back into his ball throwing game for those trickling seconds, but his mind made its determination. We scouted the next source of excitement at the first possible moment.

Disappointments

The semester is over for me, but the writing class in the prison isn’t. Since I’m already there with more material left in my curriculum, I want to continue through the holidays. This time of year can be a challenge for prison populations, so if I can offer a measly distraction, I’m happy to do so.

The sitter canceled at about six-thirty in the morning. Her kid was sick with something that sounds lovely and includes vomit. It would be a dick move to be angry about a mom taking care of her kid. And, I’d be ridiculous for wanting someone entering my house coming from that situation. But, I was disappointed. It was so last minute that no childcare replacement could be made. My husband had a meeting with his supervisor, so he couldn’t stay home. I called-off the class. I deeply love the man who had regret all over his face seeing the brief moment of defeated shoulders I didn’t realize occurred. He knows this class is the highlight of my week, and a good one lifts me for days after. But, nothing could be done, and it isn’t like this was a catastrophic thing. The college group is finished, so I’m back as a volunteer. All things considered this wasn’t that disruptive of a situation.

In the novelty her toddler bed, the two-and-a-half-year-old Warrior Queen was up too early. I probably woke her when I started exercising. When I have class, I set my alarm to start my day strong and energized with ample time to get my blood running, read my smut…and check the conclusion of the previous night’s Twitter arguments. But, a too early rise for Warrior Queen means I’m limited in where to spontaneously take the kids. With no more crib in the equation, I can’t have my fierce sprite falling asleep in the car too close to “quiet time.” Perhaps some parents appreciate the exertion of perpetual ushering into a bedroom, but I am not such a parent.

For a good chunk of my morning I had to repeat to myself that the unexpected nature of the day was not the end of the world. It wasn’t, but I was still disappointed. Something I’m trying to do, and mostly failing at, is accepting what I feel without judgment. I decided the day needed to be special…because there was no where interesting to go, and I was sulking about my class.

And, the entire foundation to the day was rough. The four-and-a-half-year-old Little Man was thrown by the sitter thing, and started to tear-up when I told him I would remain home. For some reason he conflated my missed class with his consequence for stealing. He took a nothing wood thing from his classroom that he considered a treasure. But, it doesn’t matter what it is. Stealing is not acceptable behavior, and he needs to return it. The object, however, is now lost somewhere in our house. Little Man has until his next school day to find it, or he will lose one of his own toys of my choosing as a symbolic gesture that his teacher is forever missing one of hers. He’s anxious about this, but has put in zero effort finding the object he stole. Either way, come next week I’ll stand with him as he explains what happened to his teacher and apologizes. We’ve spent DAYS talking about this situation. In his mind that morning he thought he was losing a toy sooner or something, and I think generally confused with a suddenly disrupted routine. But, we talked it out; and he proceeded to sit on the sofa, rhythmically throwing his back against the cushions like he’s been doing since he was old enough to sit on it without keeling over.

Grocery shopping was the plan, courtesy of my husband who reminded me we didn’t have dinner for the night. The prospect of bringing both kids to the store alone gives him fits, but it isn’t that bad during off hours. The kids are usually chatty about silly, adorable things; and my son is always super polite. It feels good when he delights random strangers. It’s a vanity thing that I’ll take…plenty of other moments when I want to crawl into a hole with regards to my public parenting.

I’ve learned when things make me anxious…like an unplanned day with almost no warning or flexibility, or I’m just feeling lousy for whatever reason, “special” does the trick. Special can have all kinds of meanings. For me it’s mostly a food thing, and I can’t forget my iced tea purchases that are obtained so often I don’t know if they count as special anymore. But, I certainly enjoy them, and they are a high point of enjoyment for me no matter how many days I have them. I buy cookies at a local bakery regularly as well, but the morning’s disappointment demanded chocolate chip even if the event itself is not so unique to my existence. But, cookies will always be inherently special, and make everything better.

And, there is something cool about our car rides, shorter distances anyway. For the longest time the music had been kid stuff. I’m not sure how or when the shift happened, but now the kids request songs from one of my favorite groups. Little Man almost has I Hope You’re Happy memorized.

Warrior Queen is most passionate about the following song on the disc, which is a more hard core sounding tune with an embarrassing amount of profanity to it. It isn’t at the level of “bitch digs my stick,” but it isn’t something winning me any parenting awards either. That said, it isn’t like the song deviates from my own regularly used colorful declarations. So far it doesn’t seem like either kid has noticed; maybe because it’s hard to follow the lyrics? Both kids usually have some kind of clue what the song should be called based on the words they hear. Warrior Queen calls the song she adores “Chomp.” I don’t know what the song is actually called, but it isn’t that. I give her credit though, “Chomp” actually fits with the general feel of it.

Otherwise, most of the car rides go between I Hope You’re Happy and Your Love is Like a Car Crash…the kids just call it “Car Crash.”

I’m thankful I don’t have to try and guess what they want as they stare out the windows. Both kids assert their needs quite clearly as long as communication isn’t occurring mid tantrum. Even the arguments between the two of them make sense, and I’m kinda delighted that they work out their song disagreements without my involvement or with one of them habitually caving. All things considered, they are pretty balanced about the car music selection. Little Man regularly forfeits his song turn to please his sister; I love that about him. Like my daughter, my son loves music, and will be excited to hear his “Happy” song, sigh with a “Fine, we’ll listen to Chomp again,” rocking his head against his car seat patiently until it’s finished. Then it is his turn, and I will hear him singing to himself what he knows to Happy, and my heart melts. And, there are other times when Warrior Queen changes her mind, even mid song, to please her brother. I’d been mostly sick of the same discs I’ve been listening to since Little Man started toddling, so I will not complain about the development of their new musical interests.

The car itself has become a sort of event for me in and of itself. I try to enjoy every precious morsel of it, so often find myself in a scramble once reaching destinations I haven’t put much consideration into. As we meandered through the store in our partially catawampus way, on a whim when thinking about lunch, I bought the ingredients for calzones, which are not nearly as tasty as ones purchased at a restaurant, but figured my kids would appreciate it. They did. Little Man was talking about it for the hours leading up to the meal. The grocery mostly uneventful. Warrior Queen didn’t attempt to flee the cart basket, and managed her “gentle hands” lowering items behind her. Little Man didn’t wander off and boisterously greeted people we passed…the occasional properly placed, “Excuse me.”

The bakery not so uneventful. Mr. Man toying with the small Christmas tree in the corner before I had a chance to say something, knocked an ornament to the floor. To his fright it shattered to a substantial number of dazzling pieces. Thus commenced the tired lecture since these festive trees have made their presence…everywhere. His earnest and unprompted apology to one of the bakers concluded; we purchased very fancy winter cookies, and hustled in an excitable blur out the door. Well, the kids had fancy winter cookies. I stuck with my tried and true chocolate chip.

Kids tethered to their carseats with surprisingly little controversy, I texted my mom to see if they were available in the next thirty minutes to Skype. Eventually she replied, which allowed me to feel better that I hadn’t attempted such a thing as often as my parents would like since their return south earlier in the month. Kids distracted. I cooked. We ate. Forty-five minutes of book reading with Warrior Queen sprawled on her back over my reclined body and Little Man nestled into my side, and it wasn’t a horrible day.

Later in the evening I received preliminary confirmation that I will teach two sections of my class in the spring. I have yet to teach an afternoon in the prison. Different gangs involved with different prison functioning issues, so that should be interesting. I’ll have a significant increase in college students in each class, which will be a nifty thing as well. I have to say that I’ve quite enjoyed the college students. I didn’t expect to as much as I do. My primary motivation for reaching out to this university originally was to afford me the opportunity to teach in a prison without relying on my parents remaining in the area for childcare. It’s marvelous to find that I enjoy the college contingency as much as I do. It isn’t so much that I thought I wouldn’t, rather the perception from this piece of the experience not occurring to me.

A little later in the evening I received an email from the graduate student enrolled in my class. The last syllabus assignment is an optional request for course feedback. It was a truly lovely and unexpected message…humbling. And, while it was still a disappointing day, I can’t deny its outcome.

Pillow Talk and Other Conclusions

Little by little my pressure release valve turns. Much of my acutely bad days are very specific, last a day or two, and then life moves on…until the next cycle where I repeat the process.

Image result for steam pressure

(Shutterstock knows how it is…)

Yesterday I learned my pap smear is fine…exhale. I’m good about doctor visits, which includes whatever annual check-up. I am especially diligent about appointments having to do with my lady parts. I have a history of cervical cancer that led to two cone procedures ten years apart. I don’t remember when the last one was, certainly at least a few years before my pregnancy with Little Man. I could have sworn I had the exam last year, but there is no record in the computer system. So, either something else was bungled when the hospital that includes my physician’s office switched to a dramatically new computerized system, or I forgot. I’ve never forgotten to have the appointment, but my memory isn’t great with a lot of things.

I had my primary care doctor do the exam, which I was fairly uncomfortable about. I never realized how little I liked having men rooting around in my nether region for an examination until I had a woman do it. I always thought it was just an unpleasant procedure that made me anxious. I have a trauma history, so it isn’t a mystery as to why such an exam would bother me. But, now that I know the difference, it’s more glaring a decision to make. At the moment, however, it’s too much to sit in the waiting room of a large practice that is perpetually spilling with pregnant women. My primary care doctor has always been pretty fantastic, unlike most of the other doctors I’ve encountered though my health travels. I decided to pull up the big girl pants, and just do it.

Image result for adulting gif

(Live at Everett couldn’t fit in “Neener neener…”)

I was nervous going in for many reasons, but mostly worried that having lapsed a year something was wrong. I don’t want to be overly dramatic about this. The cervical cancer I get moves at a glacial pace and easy to treat, but I still worried things weren’t okay. In reality it was more about the addition of another thing to think about, but I’d still been holding my breath about it. I abstractly knew this, but sometimes it’s hard to understand weight until it’s gone. This exam has been plaguing me for months. But, I’m okay…exhale…and another item from my list of thoughts removed.

I’d like to say I’m a spectacular parent. I suppose I’m a good one, but with so many things bombarding my mind, it’s hard to feel my best. It’s hard to stay in the moment and just appreciate. I can in finite spurts, but there always seems to be consuming competition.

My parents were up for Thanksgiving. I’ve mentioned a few times of how my son struggles with the excitement. I’m more in tune to this mechanism than I’m describing, but it seems each visit my son struggles a bit more…sooner and more intensely. This was about a three week visit with an unusually jammed schedule. The week of Thanksgiving my son had no school…changes in routine consistently hard for him. The saving grace for vacations or lack of structure is that I’m around and shepherding him through his days. If I’m present doing the lackluster mundane life stuff, he’s usually fine and quite chill…both kids are. The past few weeks, though, were meetings and appointments and simply a cacophony of stuff that required Mr. Man to spend some hours or much of a day under my parents’ exclusive care. He loves Nana and Papa, but not as much as he loves a normal day with me. He will simultaneously be exuberantly excited for the time with my parents, and seething at me for reasons he is a little young yet to explain.

But, for three weeks he’d been aggressive toward me. Little Man isn’t really an aggressive kind of kid. Certainly tired or hungry, but it’s isolated. I often get the brunt of it, but probably more do to proximity than anything else. The past few weeks, however, was intense, frequent, and mostly directed at me. Sometimes he’d stand inches in front of my legs and give this Damien glare that is creepy at a level I can’t describe.

Image result for omen damien

(Having the occasion to reminisce about my horror movie loving days I realize Little Man completely blows this kid out of the water…no contest.)

Other occasions he’ll begin hitting me without obvious antecedent, and sometimes quite hard. And, while I intellectually get where a four-and-a-half-year-old is emotionally, and I know he still loves me; this kind of thing very much hurts my feelings. I’ve been vulnerable anyway, and just don’t need my little man to be focusing his ire at me, especially in such a hostile manner.

The other night I was tucking him in. We have this routine called “dinosaur jokes,” and while it’s kinda a dinosaur thing, it isn’t remotely a joke thing. Its genesis was jokey related…more like word play I can’t quite remember the specifics of. It was an impromptu spin from a book my son never wants read, but somehow has memorized. I couldn’t get him to change his diaper or something, and he was getting mad. I began this word play thing and it became something he started requesting almost every quiet moment of the day for weeks. But, now it is exclusively a night time bed routine, and it’s somehow morphed into something else entirely.

My son makes a comment, and I as the dinosaur (indicated by me saying, “Roar,” before my statements) respond with some kind of sequence or cause/effect remark.

Image result for dinosaur dance gif

(Tenor must be listening in on our dinosaur joke extravaganza each night to create an equally believable dinosaur characterization.)

The last few weeks it’s been about the dinosaur eating his fruits, vegetables, and bacon. We have ten rounds that I count down, and invariably he speaks about sharing whatever food items with friends and family. Even when it isn’t about food, he will rope in friends and family.

Occasionally, however, this exercise becomes a way for him to express what’s bothering him. The last time was a conflict with a peer that he needed to work through at the beginning of the school year. But, the other evening he was talking about the dinosaur missing people. The phrasing, however, didn’t make a lot of sense. The only thing clear was that the dinosaur missed people he loved. My parents were leaving in the next couple of days. I assumed his focus was on that, but I know better than to run with such assumptions, as I’m often wrong…or not exactly right when I apply my logic to his thinking. Little Man regularly perseverates on things that aren’t immediately obvious. So, I asked an open ended question at the conclusion of the “jokes”…certainly I can’t interrupt the ten exchanges. That would be madness!

I don’t remember my exact wording, something along the lines of: Are you missing someone? Do you want to talk about it? He did, in fact, want to talk about it. His face close to mine facing me on his pillow, and quietly tells me he doesn’t like it when I go away. While he noted the days of appointments, he was mostly referring to when I teach one morning a week. Interestingly, he hasn’t had a problem when there are hired sitters watching him, unless my absence is two days in a row with no time in between that he can spend with me. We had a conversation about how I need to have things for myself to be a happy mommy, which I don’t think he could accept in that moment. He repeated that he has been missing me and mad. We talked some more, and I haven’t mentioned it to him yet, but this weekend I’m going to try to take him out for a day with just the two of us…that hasn’t happened for a while, and he’s been asking to visit one of our local mall haunts.

After my quiet conversation with Little Man, I returned to my bedroom telling my husband what had happened. I relayed that I don’t understand why he misses me because I’m around all the time. That isn’t delusion. Even with my appointments and such, I’m rarely away from my kids…that’s what it is to stay home. Sure, my son has school three mornings a week, but that was completely absent from his lips moments prior. My husband looks up from whatever he was watching and says, “You’re his person,” and returns to his program. It might have been hormones or fatigue from the second cold in a month, but my eyes became watery. Sometimes I don’t feel like a particularly good parent that’s present and joyful. I don’t think I’m necessarily terrible, but some days it’s hard to engage. But, with all of the distracting colliding thoughts in my mind that make me feel irritable and wanting to escape from myself, I don’t know that my son knows the difference.

All the Love…All the Feels…

Sometimes I love my kids so much I can hardly stand to exist in my skin. I’ve had a minor cold since last weekend. It’s nothing; a cough thing with laryngitis. I don’t lose my voice all that often, but I’m well aware of the havoc such a deficit inflicts.

Related image

(Famille-epanouie.fr totally caught the throbbing vein about to erupt in my forehead. Though, truth be told, I’m usually yelling about the same things, so I’m not really sure why words are necessary anymore.)

Mostly the four-and-a-half-year-old Little Man and two-and-a-half-year-old Warrior Queen will be bummed I can’t read them stories, and by “bummed” I mean ridiculous tantrums that won’t abate.

Image result for woosah gif seinfeld

(I have two children, so one of the only certainties in life is that the second kid will meltdown immediately after the other mysteriously manages to get it together, but the reasons for both tantrums will be equally absurd.)

That isn’t the kind of thing that makes my heart ooze and explode with glow.

Earlier in the week I was fairly miserable. I’ve been anxious about the election…waiting to vote…all kinds of things. And, then there is just the run of the mill other things on my mind that have been a consistent companion when I wake to use the facilities at three in the morning.

Image result for can't sleep gif

(Am I a terrible person that I get so annoyed in my inability to go back to sleep that I try to wake my husband just so he will be miserable too?)

I was up early. Little Man up earlier than usual, but nothing at the level of disturbing ides for the day. Little Man quietly pads to my side asking for Mommy-son storytime and snuggles. My throat was killing me, but how can I refuse something like that? I grab my tea, and my son began giving me pointers for taking care of myself. I had to be sure to drink slowly, so I don’t spill and burn myself…cute things like that. He skids his feet across the carpet to the books, and begins pulling a hefty pile of some of our simplest stash. While he doesn’t usually gravitate to that part of our collection, it also isn’t unheard of.

Image result for tower of books

(HME Photography knew that my throat was weeping upon the first glance of Little Man’s selections.)

Mr. Man arranges his leaning pile on the sofa, and crawls in under the blanket next to me sitting up. He opens the first book on his lap and begins to read it to me…then the next…and then another. Little Man can’t actually read; these books are uttered from memory down to the exact page. He didn’t look at me, but continued down the pile until his sister woke.

Warrior Queen is snuggly as well…that isn’t particularly new, but I like to think of the way she sits on my lap facing me asking for one more minute…for the following fifteen. She looks at me and says something silly, laughing to herself; then she will collapse her head onto my chest. Sometimes she will stretch her arms to grab my shirt or something. Sometimes she tucks them under herself while I fold her into my embrace. Often while laying on my chest she will look up to me with her bright brown eyes and smile…stating some cute observation before falling quiet. I wonder if she likes to listen to my heartbeat.

These moments don’t last long enough. Within heartbreaking minutes I’m back to yelling my disdain for something I’ve mentioned countless times prior. But, fortunately, there are at least equal numbers of moments when time stops, and I can use all of my senses to preserve my children at these loving stages; hoping they will never outgrow them in their independence altogether.

Life as Pictures: lessons in saving myself

Where has the time gone? I had been allowing myself rare copious praise for everything I’ve accomplished in the past few months…and then I noticed the last time I posted something. Ugh. Life just escapes…

But, I will detail my excuses because I’m quite proud…for the most part. I always find something that isn’t good enough, which is a torment as much as a driving force. I managed to finish a FORTH program a couple of months ago. It was a request from a director at our maximum security prison. I didn’t think I’d manage it quite so soon since I’d just finished three others at a gruelingly slow pace. But, it’s done. I’m pleased with the content. If the powers that be like it, then I’ll finish the application, and, tah-dah, the DOC will have a social skills program designed for younger gang involved men that I structured around respect. This population is steadfast in the issue, but their notions of respect are not always compatible with societal expectations. This, of course, does not intervene with the allure or complexity of gang affiliation, rather expands their communication skills beyond those directly connected to their culture. When choosing the content and general approach, I hailed back to my time working with gang involved adolescents in a clinical capacity…the conversations on this topic that seemed to have the greatest impact. Though I can’t speak to long-term success of my interventions, at least they didn’t scoff at what I said in the moment…that’s usually the way it goes. I developed a curriculum that standardized my approach; maybe it will do some good.

My education seminar is progressing up the DOC approval chain. I look forward to its blessing. For the most part things are more rubber-stamped the higher up the signature tree. I think it’s in the final stages now. I don’t really work with female populations…there are many more men in prison systems, so it’s easier to get administration in male facilities to respond to my inquiries simply because there are more of them. I have my programming dreams for incarcerated women that focus on children and pregnancy, so it will be good to have an in. When people have a face to requests, it’s easier to make progress. I don’t usually have such a luxury, but this one is particularly important to me on several levels. The seminar I created has value in and of itself. I can’t remember if I described it on an earlier occasion, but I will be providing information about special education, interventions, and policy as it pertains to the education of struggling children. Over the years I’ve run into consistent issues that are challenging to navigate for even the most high functioning family system and professionals. So, I’ll be outlining those various issues for the women incarcerated in our only state facility. Things like transportation, homelessness, truancy, general resources out there and process…a slew of issues that are more common than people like to admit, consequently ignored by larger educational systems. I’m pleased that I can provide some expertise to caregivers who usually don’t have access to it.

My college/prison class hybrid is going well. Two sessions in the prison have been solid. I have an entire group of writers, which has never happened. I almost laughed during my intro the first day. In the overview packet I include a nothing piece I wrote. I mentioned it, and every hand began to vigorously flip through in search of the sample. I don’t know if any of them ended up returning to the piece back in their cells, but it’s new to have men take interest in reading my work. Having such a large collection of writers for the first time; the discussion has a very different feel. Cool is probably a lackluster term, but it is.

I’m not calling Congress as much, which is disappointing to me, though my political bitching has thrived on social media. I’ve met a collection of interesting people very unlike myself and my experiences. I’m trying to surround myself with as many marginalized people as I can, and I can say that’s it’s nurtured compassion and a more appropriate view of the world…I also get better access to what’s happening in the country and world. Most interestingly is that I’ve found peers on social media who are like me. I cried the first time someone sharing my diagnosis found me. I can’t say I’ve met someone else with my mental health issues, and access to disability Twitter allowed me to feel pride in my own learning shtick. So, it’s been good. I’m certainly dancing with the ugly side of social media, but can appreciate what these forums add for those marginalized without a voice beyond screen perimeters. I’m grateful to sample their voices…that these individuals take the time to share their worlds not always well received.

Another new experience, I’ll be working in my town’s polling station for this election. I also signed on to work a morning shift for early voting. That’s exciting to me.

Our volunteering at the assisted living is also going well now that we join a woman who works at the facility. I don’t know what I’m doing, so now most days we just show up and sit there. Last week, though, was the first time I saw the power of having my kids do this. Little Man was playing some kind of weird catch with a gentleman who adores both of my kids, and the feeling is mutual. A man I hadn’t seen before was next to their activity kind of scowling blankly. I was starting to feel bad that maybe my son was bothering him. But, then I saw the corner of his mouth begin to quirk. The small squishy ball rolled to him. He gingerly retrieved it from his wheelchair, half toss, half rolled it back to my son who jumped on it as he tends to do. Little Man isn’t much of a catcher, but he makes up for whatever clumsiness with enthusiasm. When we left the man was smiling. It was subdued, but there and because of Mr. Man.

It continues to be a hard time I can’t quite shake, but at least it’s easier than it was. The first anniversary of a very good friend’s death rolled through the calendar recently. I have yet to hear news of another who was seriously injured over a year ago. Other than no obituary online, I don’t know how he is. I send a brief text update about every ten days or so. I don’t know if he reads them…or can read them. I don’t know if I’ll hear from him again. That’s hard, and I’m not sure if I should hope, so I just kind of numb it out like I’m practiced at doing. But, each time I sent my words there are these moments of holding my breath for a response I know won’t come. And, there are some other losses too that I don’t want to get into. Mostly it’s too painful at the moment to put it to explanation. But, I’m trying to be as positive as I can…more pragmatically than anything else. I have a Warrior Queen and a Little Man to tend to. I can’t afford to live in my funk any more than I already am. I’m good at numb…a lifetime of necessity nurtured my ability to push away inconvenience of emotion for the most part. But, it helps that I have healthy outlets these days. It helps that I’m more connected to others than I’ve ever been.

The deeds that I mentioned above are a double-edged sword of an outlet. Corrections stuff, which are more of an ambition or professional passion for me than anything else, are compartmentalized in a different space in my mind than the other occupations. The more random tasks I volunteer for drift into penance too often. I regularly grapple with unhelpful feelings of what I deserve and personal worth. Too much of me holds that if I give enough of myself, maybe I’ll stop losing friends…or babies. It’s the toll of a lifetime of loss and other kinds of trauma. Intellectually I get that the universe doesn’t work that way, but it’s a compulsion. I think it’s always been there in some form. But, I’m a middle-aged woman now, so I have more options of what to do. I’m letting myself feel bad these days, which is long overdue and good, so I channel those feelings into something else to scrub whatever internal stink I might possess. I genuinely enjoy the charitable work, but I’m well aware of the other role it plays. It’s effective in giving me a needed lift, but my worth does not rise with it. Not so much a self-esteem thing, but it comes from another place, guilt maybe? I have many blessings in my life. On some level I’m trying to deserve the good things, and make the painful ones stop…at least for a little while so I can regroup. This is a textbook trauma response. I get that, but it’s unhelpful nonetheless.

20181005_180153

My newest afghan is enormous, and a lesson in baby steps getting a job done. I might get a row in, but often less…ten minutes to work on it. But, little by little it grows, and another color wraps…then another. I look forward to the day that it warms my legs as I work the stitching. That’s still some time away, but with diligence that time will arrive before I know it. I’ve also found that something this massive and colorful is an exceptional conversation starter. I was raised in an area where people talk to anyone and everyone, even if we don’t really like them. There are many reasons why it’s hard for me to get my conversation act together sometimes, so it’s helpful to have a prop that makes me significantly less awkward. I’m a bit too blunt at times. I’m not necessarily mean, but I don’t have much of a filter; and years of working in a field consisting of events off the beaten social path at every turn, I’m extraordinarily desensitized about pretty much everything. I lost my North Star of propriety a long time ago. Now that I’m middle-aged I mostly just embrace it. I look forward to the adolescent years of humiliating my kids by simply existing.

20181004_125936

Little Man’s preschool is housed on the property of a newly renovated church. After drop-off, Warrior Queen darts over to the stairs beckoning me to follow her. I love her thrill at my chasing her down that very ramp. She giggles as I look like a lunatic to the teachers and children who can watch me running with waving arms outside their window. Eventually I’m able to shepherd her into the car with the promise that after school she can plan in the leaves. The people who tend to the exterior rake them in piles around the tree, and the kids wade in almost waist deep every afternoon. Fall is often wet in my area, but there have been several perfect autumn days. My son in his 90th percentile stature and expansive arms collects a mass of leaves to throw on a friend who is unhappy that his collection is so paltry. Those two have had some discord. My son is not quite a rough and tumble, though he can certainly give back. At the end of the day, though, he’s more silly than aggressive, often confused when peers become mad at him. He much prefers a little girl in his class, and both have asked for a playdate. I like her mom too, so that’s definitely a win. While Little Man doesn’t seem to have the same issues in school as last year, I’m seeing more defined spectrum characteristics. In a couple of months he will be evaluated. It will be good to have more tools added to my belt.

20181009_102930

There is the pretty fantastic exploration pace for kids near us. We were gifted a membership, so I took Warrior Queen while her brother was at school. This picture taken just after her visit to the water area, which nurtured some of my fierce girl’s hair spirals coming to life. My sprite is about two-and-a-half now, so I can no longer just head home and do nothing every day with a baby doing her baby thing around the house. While I don’t make spectacular plans for her, I like to think she enjoys herself and has the opportunity to socialize with other kids until her school program begins in January. She looks rapt at this magnet thing, but Warrior Queen kept returning to the area with the large bin of sand and construction trucks to push granular loads…little girl here loves her trucks, and had a fit when it was time to leave the building to collect her brother.

20181009_100050

Warrior Queen and I worked on an art project…really. It was the two of us, and my role was to ensure the glue didn’t end up sculpting her eyebrows or hair. She chose all of the various adornments. Stickers are her favorite, so I watched her study the pile of them as she delicately pealed them from their backings. She would look up at me and name the sticker picture or ask me for details. Generally my daughter is a chatty one, but at the moment I studied her face in concentration. After about fifteen minutes she suddenly slides off her stool, headed to the next diversion without any thought to our masterpiece. Sniff…I was forced to leave the project, unhappy that it would not find its home in our trash bin…like all of Mr. Man’s artwork that consists of two scribbles on paper and a line of tape stuck to it.

20181009_100559

The same establishment has a diner area. Warrior Queen fed me…this…and coffee…lots and lots of coffee. Then she remembered I don’t drink coffee, and offered me tea. This place has all of these delightful details…like the spices. The shakers are sealed from opening, but the kids can smell their contents. I love to cook, and started this activity with both Little Man and Warrior Queen. We rummage through my collection, open, and smell the various spices. Mr. Man asks what each one is and what it’s for. He will sometimes offer a story about the spice that he pulls from somewhere in his creative mind. Little Man is a marvel with his stories. Much of the time I can’t really follow his train, but I could stare at the twinkle in his eye and listen to his giggles as he makes himself laugh uncontrollably all day. After a final sniff, he holds the container down to his little sister requesting that she smell it as well. As she tries to inhale, but doesn’t quite get the task; my son tells her what she is smelling, and she looks at him adoringly. These moments are almost worth Warrior Queen going into our pantry at random points, snatching whatever spice (usually paprika), and dumping it on the floor. Naturally, these events occur when I’m in the middle of something that can catch fire.

Life as Pictures…always transitioning…

Season transitions are strange…school begins, but it’s technically still summer. But, really my days are mostly one blur to the next with vague awareness of a change in seasonal guard. Basically I’m forced to face it when my activity line-up shifts. This isn’t a complaint, but my life is home with the kids, so a weekend isn’t really an event…just another day, except my husband is around. As much as I love spending time with him and the entirety of my family, it’s disorienting. There is another adult I need to navigate when planning things, and my husband and I have different notions of what accounts for festive entertainment with kids.

Little Man began a new school year. He’ll attend three mornings in a row per week, compared to the spaced two of last year. So far the previous year’s behaviors haven’t reared. I can’t say I’m surprised by that, but we’ll see if such a trend continues. I learned from a friend that his last class had a significant number of high need kids. I have a slightly better idea than vague as to what that means, but I’d mentioned at the mid-year conference that I suspected my son was getting lost in the crowd. I was mostly ignored, so it’s validating that I wasn’t wrong.

But, in any case there are things to remember as I wade through the next bit of life…one with more time with a soul Warrior Queen. She’s old enough to need some kind of planned activities. I feel like the school year crept upon me this year, and I’m not prepared. That isn’t a complaint either, but it feels weird to have this kind of openness to…things.

20180826_122100

I can’t remember what prompted this walk in our neighborhood. The temperature must have been below Hades, which were relatively few and far between this summer. I can’t say there was much memorable with this walk…nothing particularly cute or funny to tell, but I remember enjoying it…enjoying watching my kids just do their small child frolicey thing. Warrior Queen kinda nailed the stroller push benchmark. It’s hard to say. While it was certainly veering into the grass more times than not, it’s a pretty shitty stroller. That kind of thing happens to me as well. Whenever I try to deal with it I’m left wondering if there is such a think as perceived Stroller Under the Influence or something.

20180826_123510

Totally Lady of the Flies, right? I for one am absolutely TERRIFIED!

20180826_124119

They were playing a secret game that only siblings understand. While Warrior Queen’s language is quite good, much of the time I have no idea what she uttered. Like her brother, she asserts something and dissolves into hearty chuckles asking me if I “get it.” I don’t, but he seems to. Most of the time my son’s role is sister translator. I don’t know if that’s a common sibling thing, but I soak in each and every moment of it.

20180729_102905

Another relatively tolerable summer temperature day. I don’t remember much other than the under boob sweat could have been significantly worse. We visited a favorite splash pad I’m sure I mentioned. Excellent facilities…outstanding playground. And, while my kids didn’t seem to want to be wet, I appreciated sitting in the shade and watching them play from a distance. I look for these moments when I can stand back and simply savor them as a unit.

Then there are other transitions, probably things that are only noteworthy to me. Important transitions on my end pertain to accomplishing something…usually mundane.

With my prison work I was genuinely delighted to finish writing three programs over the expanse of the summer. They took me entirely too long to complete for reasons I completely understand. Heading into the summer I feared they would remain as a loose end, but they are completed and submitted to their various parties. One is a second writing program I hope to teach in the spring. This program is the most uncertain, as writing programs from outside entities are a challenge to get into the system. I hope, though; I’m quite excited about it. Right now it is hovering at the most challenging level to get through at this particular facility. The administrator had a question, which I answered well; but I don’t know where she is with my response. Apparently she is on vacation at the moment. This official and I appreciate each other, so I hope that’s enough to quell any concerns.

The other is a program I designed as a monthly education seminar I hope to begin facilitating in our women’s prison at some point in the fall. Incarcerated women tend to be primary caregivers, as opposed to incarcerated men who are not. My seminar will be providing information about special education and various other education impacting situations like discipline, literacy, homelessness…things like that. Essentially, giving these women a rundown of the issues I bumped into the most.

The third program was helping a friend adjust an established reentry program to fit individuals serving a life sentence.

As it turns out I had the wherewithal to begin a fourth program that I never envisioned attempting at this point. It is a request from the DOC…a type of social skills group. Many of my projects directly from the Department of Corrections are not from created scratch…at least not on my end. I’m asked to contribute to or develop something specific, so they are more of a shared experience. This one will be created with no other direction than something pertaining to social skills for a facility with a mostly young, gang involved population. I am framing it around respect after exploring if something I had in mind already existed. Like the other three it’s slow moving, but I’m well into it. In many ways it’s easier to create than I thought it would be…I enjoy pleasant surprises.

But, in many ways equally exciting is the change in a hobby project that I’d easily spent a year inching on.

20180901_105503-e1537484742683.jpg

I finished my second full afghan made from my yarn stash a couple weeks ago. The first one will be gifted to my daughter when she moves out of her crib and into a bed. The second I’d hoped would go to a third child; the back up plan to my son. He would have eventually received one, but I’d hoped it would be the following project. But, alas… In any case, there is not enough yarn stash anymore to support much of anything, so I was afforded the opportunity to raid the bargain skeins at a local store. This is all very exciting!

20180920_162856

This is the beginning of my newest crochet afghan project. It’s fun to decide on the colors and stitch work I will be consumed with for quite some time. I’m never sure of things until about five colors in, certainly this time was no exception. But, I think it will be quite nice when all is said and done. In my dream world this blanket will belong to a final child, but…sigh. I tell myself it will be mine, but I suspect its destiny will belong to another. I have this weird fantasy. After the third or forth loss, I started envisioning what I would do with the last blanket. I had to finish it, but would it be too painful to keep around? It turns out that I’m neutral about it in that respect…Mr. Man will adore it once he realizes it’s for him. But, I had these visions of donating it to a teen mom in foster care…that’s actually a thing. There are teen mothers who need foster parents to help them navigate pregnancy and eventually parenthood…assuming she is choosing to keep her baby. I’m not sure what happens with the foster arrangement if the baby is given up for adoption. At some point I’d like to make one of these blankets and anonymously donate it to a young woman like that. I would have these thoughts as I toiled with the last afghan; that it should be the holder of memories involving a baby growing through its stages. I don’t know if this one will be such a gift, but at some point I’d like to see that ambition come to fruition. Children of all sorts seem to gravitate to my stash projects. This one isn’t quite stash in the same sense, but it’s bright and colorful. As I schlep it with me to outings bearing scores of random kids, I expect the same result as with the other two.

But, then there are the daily random things having nothing to do with anything. They have phases too, which is perhaps why I include them in my transition basket of memories.

20180828_133301

My son builds things. He goes through phases…materials…structures. At this juncture it was cohesive towers that he craved to dance around. Warrior Queen would carefully add her touches of random bricks that fit nowhere else. Mostly she’d have to stretch in her effort, her bother watching her from a distance quietly. In those moments seeming to hold his breath in anticipation. He often seemed as proud as her once the task concluded. Sudden swinging crashes as they gleefully destroyed their work to begin a new.

20180903_111505

There is no real significance with these figures, though I find it interesting that Lego has a plethora of variously colored mullets in their serial killer collection bin of fragmented body parts. Does something like that really need to be memorialized?

20180902_111651

Warrior Queen doesn’t care much for dresses or dolls,  preferring trucks and other vehicles…maybe the occasional toy pony. BUT, she certainly loves sparkle and pink. These delights are a bit too large for her, but her eyes light up when she wears them. Beaming eyes while she utters a vaguely garbled, “sparkly.” These days I’d do just about anything to watch her dance around. It used to be focused, jerky hip movements; but now she throws her arms King Kong style. If there is the promise of her dances, then I’m prepared to offer her all the sparkles she could ever hope to desire.

Life as Pictures: when they are equally brave and annoying

Things are good. I was asked to teach for the same university for the fall semester. I’m pretty jazzed about that…a bit surprised too. I felt I did a good job, but this is a grant funded gig. I assumed when I wasn’t asked to return shortly after I finished, they moved onto other agendas. I don’t quite understand the mission of this department subset. Other cool things…did I mention I was nominated for a nonprofit Board? I’ve volunteered for them in various capacities for a few years, but I hadn’t considered and opportunity like this. It was flattering to be recommended by the Executive Director, Board Chair, and Vice Chair. It isn’t unusual for superiors and colleagues to sing my praises to some extent, but I’m always flattered and humbled by this kind of positive regard…and then I proceed to find ways to dismiss the accomplishment and undermine my positive mindset…I’m working on that…

20180618_091221

Mr. Man is an interesting character. Some things I can’t get him to do for the life of me, but going to the dentist and receiving shots is a total nonissue. Of course, if I had shades like that maybe I’d be down with it too… Actually, while I’m phobic of needles, the dentist never bothered me. As a middle-aged woman I continue to have excellent oral hygiene. The dentist and hygienist were shocked he had no issue throughout the appointment…totally chill. We spend quite a bit of time talking about bravery anticipating scary things. It’s worked surprisingly well. About a week before appointments we start having discussions about these things…doctor’s visits…dentist…whatever that might be considered unpleasant or scary. Sometimes Little Man will frantically wave his hands and tell us to stop talking. Literally. He interrupts us mid sentence saying, “Stop talking,” in a rushed breath. We do. But, we still manage a healthy dose of normalizing fear, discussing bravery and the process of confronting fear. These days my son will ask me what I’m afraid of and what I do about it…and I will confirm that I am afraid of an irrational shit-ton of things. I think, however, it’s helpful for him to hear of all the things the family members he admires fear. After all, everyone is scared of something.

20180705_095307

I can’t believe it, but I have potty training news! The peanut gallery can FINALLY get off my back…for now. My son isn’t quite there yet. Sometimes he will urinate in the toilet. Most of the time this month he decided to use the toilet to poop, which is quite a lovely thing. He’s pretty good at wiping himself as well. Given there are easily about three poops a day per child, I’m livin’ large. It isn’t perfect. Little Man isn’t ready to transition to full-time potty (probably because he doesn’t yet realize he will be left alone to eat a snack and read a book for a few minutes). We haven’t had accidents so much as expressions of his reliable need to control people and his environment. His refusals to poop in the toilet seem directly related to very specific events I don’t want to get into, but for the time being are unavoidable. And, the day after his first toilet dump, he didn’t scream and tantrum when I mentioned buying underwear. He chose the above selection. I can’t stand that show. Their notion of diversity are having both blond and brunette White boys…one of them is the leader, and totally obnoxious. The girl is not quite White, but simultaneously is. She has an exotic name, so that must count, right? (Oh, look, there are my tonsils!) I say this because the lack of diversity, lead girls, and general stereotyping in children’s programming GREATLY bothers me. But, I digress. Mr. Man seemed keen on his underwear, but Warrior Queen seemed significantly more so. My money is on her using the toilet shortly after her big brother stops needing diapers during the day. She’ll see him strutting around in his annoying Cat Boy underwear, and that will be the end of diapers for Warrior Queen!

20180706_134102.jpg

Mr. Man enjoys puzzles. I’d been giving him puzzles for a three-year-old, which are much too easy, but he enjoys repetitions like that. This one is the first four-year-old puzzle he’s tried. He could probably do it himself, but prefers it as an activity to do with an adult. For the first time in my life I enjoy puzzles…because I can manage one for a four-year-old. It took a bit for Little Man to sit for this one, but he enjoyed schlepping all the pieces around. This was the first time we managed to get through it without him building something random and incongruous with the project of piecing together the thing. I never did find that piece, and it’s unbelievably annoying.

20180710_170452

This is not an impressive game of the retro Pick-up Sticks. This is Warrior Queen battling me over an almost full box of pasta. It was already open and resting on the counter. She apparently can scale our island to grab anything and everything off the top by using the drawer handles as a ladder. I had my back to her for a second…of course, that’s a parenting motto: “It was just a second!” You’d think I wouldn’t be a total idiot about where I place things, yet… She wanted to carry it over to me, but I’m not THAT much of an imbecile. Her wanting to “carry” it over consists of shaking the box and dumping the contents everywhere. But, that’s not what happened in this instance. There was no shaking with a gradual overflow of objects out of a container. Warrior Queen cut right to the chase and immediately dumped everything, subsequently screaming as I tried to retrieve the completely empty box.

20180719_120040

Warrior Queen spent a good fifteen to twenty minutes refusing to eat anything but the broth of this soup, which is just wrong. Who doesn’t passionately love chicken noodle soup? I mean, I’ve had bad chicken noodle soup, but it’s practically an art to completely fuck it up. I remember looking down for a moment, and when I glanced back, this was the situation before me. I even checked the ground and her lap before marveling at her efficiency of sucking down the cup’s contents.

Life as Pictures: a day or two…or three in an ordinary life

Has it really been so long since I’ve managed this form of post? I like to mix it up, but here I was thinking it’s been endless publications of this same format…Oh, how I’ve been mistaken!

20180325_121525

Remarkable the way times change… When Little Man was born, I’d religiously experience a Saturday lonesome outing. It was miraculous! These days such frequency ebbs and flows…mostly ebbs at the moment. My go-to had always been to attend my Weight Watchers meeting before jetting off to the expansive mall down the street…sometimes some errands that would be easier to accomplish sans cherubs. I never used to be a mallrat, but sometimes it’s pleasant to be around a crowd of people. Staying home can be lonely and isolating, and while not perfect, sometimes it is a comfort to just meander with other meandering people. I’ve also turned into a weird kind of chatterbox. I have no qualms with talking to random people. Interestingly, no one places me as some crazy person intruding on their solitude. It’s a rare thing to be unable to bring forth a chuckle from a stranger that happens to be loitering within close proximity to me. Lately, however, I discovered an exceptionally pleasant diversion. I go to a frequent weekly meal haunt, but without my children. It’s rather luxurious. I eat lunch on my terms…without heartburn. I had been buying a three pack of the above cookies, but I must lament that they are no longer as tasty as they used to be. That discovery was a bit traumatic for me. But, I’ll sit down…read a book that’s been in progress for years. I read quite a bit during the week, but my diversions are among the collection residing in my tablet. I actually like this book a great deal, but it’s usually a disaster to pull it out in the house. So, it remains a sporadic treat for the time being.

20180324_155820

I’ve mentioned my fiberware. This is no longer the current progress update of my second ever afghan composed of the yarn stash I couldn’t bear to toss. I crochet about a row or so daily. I’m about three or four colors further as I post this.

The newly minted two-year-old Warrior Queen has tantrums about getting dressed most of the time. I’ve found a loophole that works about eighty percent of the time; imperfect, but I’ll take it. Getting a sharp kick to the throat on a regular basis is tiresome even under the best of circumstances. It’s a simple intervention, really. I allow her to choose her ensemble. I appreciate the way she throws items together, as I am one for clashing patterns and askew color combinations in my wardrobe…aside from my penchant for unnecessarily endless varieties of black dresses… My fierce girl loves pink, as well as cars and trucks, so stereotypes be damned! She also adores hats, and has excellent taste. It’s a challenging time of year. Her current clothing is too small for the most part, particularly the shirts that are currently reminiscent of 1980s belly shirts. The weather hasn’t been consistently nice enough to transition to the appropriate garb, but at least she’s little, so no one thinks twice that she looks ridiculous. Besides, with outfit pairings such as this, she would naturally be forgiven for an ill fitting wardrobe. My girl can rock the penguins combined with pants I affectionately term “Bubbe’s sofa.”

20180424_091459

I’ve mentioned my resistance to going outside. On a pleasant day I’m usually fine once I’m in the throws of the outdoors, but I consistently find excuses to remain inside…It’s probably why I need to consume almost the maximum dosage of vitamin D in supplement form. Warrior Queen and I had just dropped off Mr. Man for his morning at preschool. I’d committed to taking her immediately to a park or outside on our front lawn. It was supposed to be a beautiful sunny day, and I’m trying to commit to spending more time with the kids outdoors (spoiler alert: I still suck at it pretty profoundly). Warrior Queen decided that she didn’t want to make an appearance at one of our local playgrounds. Rather, she preferred to run with reckless abandon on the preschool’s property. I followed her as she climbed the various stairs, subsequently running down the ramps. I even chased her, soaking in her delightful giggles.

20180424_092819

The rare moment Warrior Queen sat. It was a fleeting instant. I think she just wanted to try it out to see if it was for her…It wasn’t.

20180424_094918

Fantastic hat, right?

20180426_175946

Warrior Queen also loves bows…all of them. I strategically place the remaining three on the other side of her head, and by “strategically” I mean I land them wherever they will stick on a moving target that squeals a somewhat garbled, “More bows!” It likely doesn’t help that I’m usually laughing as I lumber over whatever death and destruction my kids plot from their toy carnage haphazardly strewn everywhere we told them not to. And, for whatever reason all I can think from my fierce girl’s request for hair adornment is, “More cowbell!”

20180428_110350

We went to some kind of local festival with a llama theme; I assume in memory of Anna Dewdney. It was exceptionally well organized affair and a beautiful day. This particular game was pin the tail on the llama…I think. Mr. Man didn’t really move past the desire to wear the mask. The game efforts themselves were unremarkable, but at one point he pulled the mask up briefly to give me an air kiss before returning the mask to the above rightful place.

20180428_111127

After spending an exorbitant amount of time trying to convince Little Man to visit the alpacas, this was pretty much the only view to behold…

20180429_125326

This is mid tantrum…I opened the door. It’s sad I don’t have a video of one of her exhibitions, as they are impressive with their gusto. They have an incredible fortitude and limber quality to them. Certainly she’s loud and has a proclivity for ample tears on demand, but the flailing is a sight to behold. She literally pounds the ground with her fists and kicks her feet as one would expect any trite child caricature. Additionally, she kind of rocks her body in a spastic back and forth motion; occasionally looking up at me to ensure she has my attention. Inevitably she notices that I’m essentially laughing at her or I casually ask her if she’s done. That usually doesn’t go well, so she perseveres. Her tantrums amuse me because they just keep going…until they don’t. Often I won’t give into her demand, so she changes her demand mid stream…only she’s too upset to really communicate it…Consequently she’ll keep crying and screaming. At some point I figure it out from what I can only assume is divine intervention. It’s usually something reasonable and fine. I fulfill her request, and then it’s over like the episode never happened. She does her awesome toddler prance-trot off to play or whatever all smiles and sweetness, wiping the hair from her face…sometimes asking for a tissue. More times than not these days the act of asking for and receiving said tissue is enough to end the tantrum.

20180502_132512

This kind of dress is not my bag, but I saw it for cheap, and simply knew my feisty girl would love it. She watched me as I removed the tags and pushed it into the hamper for a first washing. Warrior Queen rooted it out, and demanded she wear it that very moment. How could I deny her such a request?

20180503_094102

Watermelon might be my girl’s favorite food among a long list of other favorites. Perhaps this one is more reliably eaten than others? This was day #2 of the pale pink ballerina dress. She woke-up requesting it. The dress was fairly soiled from a mere several hours of play the day before, but there was absolutely no amount of convincing that could be managed. I suppose the look on her face wearing it for the second day in a row is enough to assuage the dreaded Mom Guilt. Not than anyone could tell from her wardrobe selection for the day, but it’s eighty degrees outside. For the life of me I couldn’t even convince her to shrug off her sweater. I purchased it because it was three dollars, and I needed a bigger sweater for her just in case. I had no notion she would become so passionate about it. Maybe because it’s colorful and subtly shimmers? The pants sparkle too…and her shoes are multicolored hearts…The girl likes to make a statement!

The memories feel like they fly by, and I don’t have enough documentation of their every wonder. The knowledge of forgotten morsels break my heart; I want to remember all of those perfect times. More-seasoned-than-I parents offer an almost universal nugget of unsolicited advice, that I should enjoy every moment. I think that’s complete bullshit. Every moment is not worth enjoying…but so many are. I deeply wish to forget some of my parenting encounters, but others I want to stretch so I can savor them for an eternity. And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

%d bloggers like this: