BlogHer was fun, and weird, and everything I expected in good ways and bad. I have a couple posts brewing in my brain, but in the meantime, I leave you with this photo, and a question:
Does anyone know who these beautiful women are??
I had an awesome conversation with them Friday evening but I (cough, cough) can't seem to recall their names, and definitely not their blog urls. I do know this: they did not have business cards (you know, with all their bloggy info), and neither did I, and we all three of us thought that made us extra special in a very hip, un-BlogHer way. (We don't need no stinkin' cards! We are too cool for that!) Um, except now I may never find them again.
Damn you bloggers and your silly ideas that prove to be practical in the long run.
Oh, here's another photo, so you know what I'm talking about:
Update: Ha ha ha--that IS Chase from Taste the world, and guess what? She totally gave me her card. It's even in the picture I took last night--the picture of all the bloggy businessy cards that I thought we were talking about not having. Apparently that was a conversation with another blogger? Or perhaps I misunderstood when she handed me her card? Maybe I thought she was just giving me her autograph. It is possible, just possible, that I had a wee bit too much to drink Friday night. Maybe.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
BlogHer was fun, and weird, and everything I expected in good ways and bad. I have a couple posts brewing in my brain, but in the meantime, I leave you with this photo, and a question:
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
It is crazy busy here in POW-land. I never have a second to sit down at the computer anymore, and when I do, I have to work on a project for my dad (beyond boring, but it pays a teensy amount). I've been trying to catch up on all of your posts but--my god! It's like the black hole of blogging: I start with one post--and even if I don't click through from bloglines--when I look up, it's been an hour, and I'm still only halfway through my feeds. Never mind trying to find time to type out all the pretty pretty posts knocking about in my noggin.
We have a playdate this afternoon. This is big news, as I typically do not attend these types of things. Not because I'm a snob, but because I don't have many mom friends, and I'm too shy to suggest anything like it to the other moms at pre-school. In any event, one of the other moms suggested it to me, and we're going, this afternoon. We'll see how it goes.
I am getting more and more excited about BlogHer. I'm still a little nervous, but not like I was. After all, as Y reminded me: we're not in high school anymore. Of course it would be nice if everyone liked me, but I've lived long enough to know this is not a probability. Despite my winning personality and compassionate heart, some people refuse to jump on the Amy love-wagon. But there will be plenty of good people to keep me company, and if it gets all clique-y and ass-kissy, I can always just hang with Y. Personally, I don't give a rat's ass who is a "popular" blogger and who is not, I just want to drink a few beers and laugh a lot.
There is no food in the house. Do you think it's fair to leave it this way for Lance over the weekend? Or should I go tomorrow and buy the appropriate kid food so he won't have to shop with both kids? I'm tempted to leave it, but that wouldn't be very wifely of me, now would it? Hmm.
Since we have no food in the house, I promised the kids a trip to Taco Bell for lunch, if they behaved at Target. Go ahead, guess what happened. I was looking forward to some Nachos Supreme but instead had to come home to this hotbox of a house and cook up some nuggets for the kids and mac and cheese (from the blue box) for me. Yum. Good for my diet, too! (Yeah, yeah, I know. Nachos Supreme aren't that good for the diet either. Whatever.) My children are a joy. I tell you, an absolute joy.
We have lived in this house for 5 years. In those 5 years, there have been 24 days where I wished we had air-conditioning. 14 of those 24 days? In the last 2 weeks. It's fucking hot. As a result, we try to leave the house even more than usual, leaving me less time at the computer. I wish to God I had an office job where I could sit in nice air-conditioning and surf blogs to my heart's content. But I'd only have to go in when I wanted to. And I wouldn't have any responsibilities, unless it was something fun.
Who needs a 4300 square foot house? I'm just curious, since they built one around the block from me, and now they are trying to sell it for over 2.1 million dollars. Don't forget, we live two football fields away from a municipal airport, in a sub-par school district. And yet: a 2 million dollar mansion. I don't get it. I went to look at it, out of curiosity, and it's pretty enough. But--unless you have 4 kids, why do you need 4 bedrooms, each with their own walk-in closet and bathroom? Just seems odd to me, to spend 2 million dollars to live in my neighborhood. Then again, the little shit houses like mine are still selling for 1 million, and that house should be worth WAY more than double what mine is. So maybe it's a steal.
Guess what? Heidi came through for me again, as usual. Last night, we were out at a birthday party, but she dropped off a pair of jeans. Can I tell you how awesome they are? Mid-rise, so no muffin top! Long leg, so they make me look tall! Free, so . . .Free! Best of all, I didn't have to go to the mall. Lucky brand, but I can't seem to find a style name, just this number: 81LZ061. I may bring them to Blogher, although the thought of wearing jeans in this heat is making me itch.
Have a great weekend everybody!!
Friday, July 21, 2006
Okay, so that last post was just a tad bit too pathetic, even for me. Here is what I'm going to do:
I am going to BlogHer. I am going to be scared. I am going to feel inadequate and inconsequential and totally out of my league. But I am going to push on through and force myself to have a decent time anyway. I am going to meet tons of women, whose blogs I admire tremendously; I am going to drink large vessels of beer; I am going to laugh nervously and maybe genuinely. I am going to figure out something to say, at some point, that will make sense. I am going to have a weekend away, without the kids, and I am going to do my best to enjoy myself.
Are you with me?
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Okay, so everyone knows that BlogHer is coming up in, oh, 8 days or something. (!. !!!) You may not know that I am attending. I haven't mentioned it much, mostly because I have been dreading it and trying desperately to think of ways to get out of it. I knew if I admitted here that I'd bought the ticket, you all would make me go.
I actually DO want to go, on some level. But the fear of meeting all of you is freaking me the fuck out. REALLY REALLY FREAKING ME OUT. Do you hear me freaking out? Social situations where I know nobody? My absolute worst nightmare. Unlike some of you lucky folk, who get talky with alcohol or nerves, I just clam up. Completely. To the extent that I have been known to stumble over the pronunciation of my own name. (Reminder: it's Amy. Yeah, a real tough one.)
I would never, in 6 million years, have agreed to attend BlogHer, if not for her. She kept insisting, and if you know Y, *you know how relentless she can be. How could I say no? Plus, I bought those tickets AGES ago, so it seemed somehow safe. It didn't seem like July 28th would ever arrive. (Right, because I have lots of experience with time just stopping. Oh, yeah, happens all the time.)
So the tickets are bought (but here's another thing: I was too cheap/intellectually unmotivated to buy tickets to the actual conference and only bought tickets to the cocktail parties. Which means that all of you are going to get all chummy and happy Friday during the conference and by the time the cocktail party rolls around you'll be best friends and I'll just be the dumbass in the corner not saying anything again. And you will wonder: why is that girl at this cocktail party? She's not a blogger!!) Hmm, where was I, oh yes: the tickets are bought, the flight is arranged, the husband is handling kid duty for the weekend (!!!.!!!!) and there's no way I'm getting out of it now.
So I bit the bullet. That is, I bullied Nancy from MomMa'amMe (who has a fantastic blog, by the way--but everyone knows that already) to interview me for the BlogMe thing, just so some of you people that are going might remember me, and be nice to me, and then maybe I won't shrivel up and die the minute the plane lands in San Jose.
You can go check me out, here. And, looky, here's my handy little button:
Isn't it cute?
If anybody else is going to BlogHer, or even if you're not, I'd love to interview you for the BlogMe thing. Seriously! Email me or leave a note in my comments. I think I'm technically supposed to tag people but I've never been good at following the rules, especially if they fall outside my comfort zone.
Actually, who IS going to BlogHer? Will you be my friend? Please? I promise not to say anything inappropriate (or funny. or anything at all.). But I will laugh at your jokes! Hell, all I'll be able to do is giggle: I'll be the perfect date!
*Here, something else to bring out my insecurities: I am attending BlogHer with a (gasp!) "popular blogger"! People will see me us together and say "Ohmigod, who is that with Y? She thinks she's so cool, just cuz she's with Y!! But she sucks!" And then Y will feel obligated to babysit me, which will make me feel even more like a loser and . . . (can you see why this social anxiety is a bit of a problem for me? Do you think I need help? More than what 3 beers can do? How do you maintain a 3 beer buzz over the course of a weekend without getting to the 4 beer buzz (wastoid) or sobering up (hello, social anxiety!))
When I wrote that first post about feeling resentful and angry in my marriage, I got a lot of comments from new people. For whatever reason (solidarity?), that post encouraged lurkers to come out and be seen for a quick minute, and I love that. Not just because I got to "meet" some more of you, but also because you had some awesome things to say. My more regular readers had incredible insight, too, and now it becomes obvious why blogging has become such a big part of my life: you help me make sense of my world. I know, I know--that sounds so fucking hokey, but I don't know what else to say, because it's true.
And it wasn't just that post. No, the revelations and support and insight continued after I wrote the second post. I hardly need counseling anymore, since I have all of you to set me straight. (Don't worry, we're still going to counseling. Lance does not reap the benefit of your brains, after all.)
So, thank you. I am completely impressed. And forever grateful.
P.S. I linked a bunch of your comments above, but I wanted to link to every single one. Seriously, everything you guys had to say helped unbelievably, and I do not mean to qualify the comments by linking some and not others.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Well, it will come as no surprise that this birthday letter is a month late. I don't think I've ever been on time with one, and I'm making no plans to buck that trend. Don't take it personally, monkey, it's just that I don't have a lot of time when I can just sit quietly and think about you.
Part of the reason for that is you, of course. Remember when you were my quiet little easy baby? When you used to sit by the bookshelf and pull out book after book after book, reading them all quietly and never needing me to entertain you? Well, those days are long gone. Now, the minute I sit down at the computer you run over and grab my hand from the mouse: "No, Mommy!"; or climb up onto my lap, demanding to "look at letters"; or pester me relentlessly: "I want to go car, Mommy! Pick up Isaac? Mommy? Mommy!!". Makes it difficult to get my very important blogging done, sweetheart.
Oh, but I don't really care about that.
This is what I care about: the way you grab me about the knees, burrowing your head in, and say "I love ya, Mom," so casually. The sound of your disappointed "Oh---oh" when I've told you no, as if you are 10 years old, and not two. The way that you always, every. single. time. skip four when you are counting to twenty. The way you are, right at this minute, singing "E I E I O!!" at the top of your lungs instead of napping in your crib. The way you are giggling hysterically, when your brother (also not napping) repeats the same "song" back to you, even louder, from his perch in my bed.
Is it nice when you finally drift off?
Yes, of course. I mean, look how cute you are when you're asleep! Truth is, you are just as cute when you're awake. The last six months you have truly blossomed, Vivian. Suddenly, you are definite in your wants and you refuse to be distracted. From easy-going toddler you have morphed into incredibly independent pre-schooler. "I do it!" is your favorite sentence, and I hear it, with varying degrees of intensity, at least 300 times a day. Thing is, Vivian, those car seat buckles are made to be difficult for children under 5 to operate. You actually can't do it yourself, no matter how much you want to.
According to my mother, the independent streak comes from me, though I tend to think it is just you, rushing to keep up with your brother. So far, all of your friends are his, so they are all older than you are. You try as hard as you can to do everything they do, but sometimes it's hard. You will get there, Viv, trust me on that. Don't be in such a hurry to get somewhere else, try to enjoy what's going on right now.
In a few weeks you will be starting school with your brother, 3 mornings a week. Maybe you'll meet some girls there that will be doing things more your speed, and you won't feel like you have to keep measuring up to your brother. Or maybe you'll always feel that way; maybe that's what if feels like to be the second child. (God knows I never measured up to your aunt, but that's a whole different story.) I think school is going to be great for you, and I can't wait to see you make friends of your own.
When you were first born, Vivian, your brother was a very demanding 16 month old. I used to cry when I looked at you, because it felt so unfair to me: all of my time was spent trying to corral Isaac, and I didn't have much time for you at all. The first few months of your life I barely had time to sit down to nurse you. Even when you were awake, I left you alone, not having a second to play with you or read to you or do any of the things I did with Isaac when he was a newborn. However, now I think you've made out pretty well, because when you were 8 months old, Isaac started school. That means that for over a year now, you and I have shared 3 full mornings a week together. Granted, much of that time is spent running errands, but there have also been plenty of hours that you spent climbing all over me, tickling me and being tickled back*, playing "wubba wubba wubba"--the game you invented which involves you sitting on my knees and me "flying" you back and forth until you fall off. I have really, really enjoyed those hours with you, sweetheart, and I hope it makes up for the ones you missed as an infant.
I'm not sure how, exactly, but the fact is you are growing. You are in the 30th percentile for height and weight now, despite the fact that you refuse to eat anything that is not a carb. Or nitrates, you seem to really like those. Oh! And how could I forget the sugar?
I just keep cutting up vegetables for you and then throwing them away, hoping that one of these days you will actually get one into your digestive tract.
Oh, Viv. I just love you so. I love watching you grow up. I love watching you play with your brother. I love watching you learn how to do new things. But I admit to feeling a little bit nostalgic for your baby days, too. Don't grow up too fast, okay? You are, most likely, my last baby, and even though I complain about this mothering gig A LOT, the truth is I love it, and I don't want it to end.
*You may just be the most ticklish person on the planet, and NOTHING makes me happy than to hear your belly laugh whenever I so much as get near you with my tickling fingers.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Sunday, July 16, 2006
So you know how I was bitching and moaning the other day because Lance gets to do whatever he wants and I'm just a slave taking care of every last thing? It's not really like that. Sometimes it may feel like that, but it's not actually like that.
Really, whenever Lance goes out with friends, or is gone for whatever reason in the normal "after work" hours, he makes it up to me by giving me a night off. This generally means that the next night he'll handle all the kid duties while I blog to my hearts' content in the other room. The time last week when he went out to see some stupid band for two nights in a row? He arranged for a babysitter one of those nights and called her to make sure I'd have something fun to do (we went out to dinner with Trent, which was fabulous).
As a matter of course, on the weekends and evenings after work, he takes the kids to playgrounds or to the beach or for walks, giving me needed down time. When we go out to dinner, etc, he knows what we need in the diaper bag, and he gets it together much of the time. (No, not most of the time, but still.) Usually, he makes dinner reservations for us and arranges for the babysitter. Every now and then, he comes home from work early and sends me out for a pedicure. He rarely works later than 5:30. He is always in charge of baths, is equal partners in the going to bed routine, cleans up the dishes every night, picks up toys, and so on. It is not as if he is playing video games or watching TV while I'm slaving away. (Except when he's surfing. And honestly? He hardly ever surfs anymore.)
So you see? There is really no reason for me to feel so resentful. He is doing all I can ask of him--he is doing more than many husbands I'm told, so I should feel grateful. Some days I do. But some days I still feel angry.
I emailed with Phantom a little bit after that last post, and in writing to her I think I may have stumbled onto a nugget of truth: my feelings of resentment don't feel valid, because Lance does help out so much. So instead of communicating to him that I need some more help or whatever it is, I just get bitter inside. I sigh passive-aggressively and slam things around and insist that nothing's wrong. I can't admit why I'm upset because part of me doesn't believe I have a right to be upset.
Then, I was e-mailing Mommygoth about the same thing, and I stumbled on this nugget: it is not that I feel alone in my resentment of my husband. I think that many women feel this same way (to a lesser degree, of course--most women do not, presumably, have to resort to marriage counseling, but then again, I could be wrong); I think that feeling this way is a symptom of motherhood. I honestly believe that being a mother is hard, hard work. Harder than any 9 to 5 job. I hear all the other mothers out there singing that song, and I join right in. I feel justified in my resentment. Who cares how much Lance helps, this shit is hard.
Right, the complete opposite of my previous truth. My feelings of resentment are not valid; my feelings of resentment are justified. Which is it?
Finally, I was talking to my good friend Susanna, and she reiterated to me that my feelings ARE valid. "Just look at all the comments you got on that post," she said. "Obviously you struck a chord with other moms out there," said she. She is right, of course. Just as all of you who left such inspiring, reflective comments on that post are right. It is no wonder we are all resentful. But then again, since Lance is such a stellar husband and father (isn't he?), maybe I should be able to harness that resentment a little better.
I'm not sure where all this leaves me. Except in the need of some counseling, immediatement.
Tell me something, though. How much does your partner help out? Is Lance doing more than his share? Is that even relevant to my feelings, and should it be? And if my feelings ARE justified even if Lance is doing all he can, what, exactly, am I supposed to do about them?
The next time I am whining about how terrible my life is and woe is me, I can't get my haircut when I want to, wah wah wah--do me a favor and tell me to shut the hell up, k?
Otherwise, I might find myself in a familiar surgeon's exam room, listening to him say things like "well, yes, I think it's better if we go in and try to fix this" and "no, it's not urgent, but I'd like to do it before too long, because it's so easy* to do at this age and by the time he's four or five he'll really be resisting it".
And then I might have to beat myself about the head with the proverbial baseball bat. Your life is so hard, bitch? Take this! And this! Better the baseball bat than another fucking surgery, you see.
Anyway, enough whining from me. A new post about truth in blogging coming up, where you will see quite clearly how much of that last post was pure fucking lameness on my part. Perhaps then the surgery gods will allow this next surgery (October or November, probably) to be the last one for awhile.
*Yes, he actually said "so easy".
Posted by Piece of Work at 1:49 PM
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
First things first: the pacifier seems to be a thing of the past. It's taking Vivian a bit longer than usual to fall asleep, but that's it. I can handle an extra 20 minutes of playing around in the crib. And Isaac slept until 7 this morning and no doubt would have slept longer if his sister had not awoken at 6:45 demanding, "Up! I want to get up, Mommy! Mommy!!"
If that's your best shot, Mommy jinx, I'm all over it.
(I realize this is beyond stupid and I will pay the price later but I'm feeling especially reckless right now. )
Another thing I'm feeling right now? Confused. Confused about my relationship with Lance, confused about who I am and what I want and why I seem to be so fucking unhappy all the time, even though I'm also actually thrilled quite often too. See? Confusion.
People have been writing about motherhood, and how it can be lonely and frustrating at times. I feel it, too. And my husband bears the brunt of those feelings. I am bitter and resentful. After all, Lance gets to have his same old life except with two extra little morsels to munch on when he comes home from work. He goes to work, just like he always did, and eats lunch in nice restaurants that use cloth napkins, talks and jokes with his colleagues all day, runs around being useful and accomplishing things and getting strokes from his boss and a paycheck every two weeks. Just like before the kids, except that now he has the added bonus of Isaac and Vivian. Not to mention a slave, I mean wife, who runs all the errands and does a myriad of things that he used to do before.
Yeah, so when he comes home he has to give the kids a bath, or take them for a walk, but is that really so hard? I mean, is it? REALLY?? So hard that he needs to go skiing with his buddies for 10 days? So hard that he needs to go out with friends two nights in a row to see a band that really, really dates him?
Meanwhile, my life is completely, totally, irrevocably changed. I don't do ANYTHING without first considering the kids. And I don't mean in an Uber Mommy oh-let-me-do-that-for-you way; I mean in a two-and-three-year-olds-aren't-even-close-to-being-independent way. I don't ever go anywhere without planning. I can't get my fucking hair cut or go to the doctor without scheduling a time that Isaac is in school, and my mother in law is available to babysit, at a time when traffic won't be an issue, and a day when my doctor or the hair salon is available.
And I know these are old, tired complaints. Most of you are mothers, you know exactly what I'm talking about. You know why I sometimes feel bitter or pissy. Why I wish I had some really important, high paying job so I could do that instead of be home with the kids.
The thing is, some days, it's incredible. Some days I look at my kids and they are so fucking beautiful and sweet and charming and edible and I think "I am so lucky to have this time with them." I think, "My god, what would I do without them?" Then my heart explodes into a million tiny, warm bubbles of goodness that dissipate into my bloodstream and turn my whole body into a quivering lump of ecstasy, not unlike an especially luxurious orgasm. Some days, the weather is gorgeous, and we go to the beach and the sand isn't too hot and there are enough light green shovels ("I don't want the blue one, Mommy!!!") for everybody and I get to sit there, in the sun, on a beach chair and watch my children play. I am thrilled in those moments. In all those moments of the day, I am smiling, I am grateful, I am content.
So what, exactly, am I so bitter and resentful about? Why can't I focus on the good stuff and be grateful for these two wonderful beings that have made my life six thousand times better than I ever imagined? Why do I persist in feeling bitter, and resentful, and put upon and OHMYGOD IF I HAVE TO WIPE THE SNOT OFF ONE MORE NOSE TODAY I WILL ABSOLUTELY DIE.
Obviously, as often as I have my moments of bliss with the kids, I also have days where the spilled soy yogurt is followed by the broken lamp and followed by a head-butting 3 year old and a hitting two year old and 6,547 time-outs before nine o'clock in the morning. Days where the frustration level in the house is pushing way into the red zone and my parenting skills are maybe not something I would necessarily be proud of.
Then 5:30 rolls around and Lance waltzes in and says something innocent like "What did you do today?" or "It's hot, why isn't the fan on?" and suddenly I'm in bitch mode, stalking around picking up toys and laundry or slamming open the fridgerator door muttering things like "Oh, god knows I don't have anything to do except eat chocolate and watch Oprah" loud enough for him to hear. Just like that, I'm pissed off for the next whatever--sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes an hour-- depending on when something happens to diffuse my mood, and I can't even tell what that will be until it occurs. And even as this is happening, even as I'm storming around making dinner loudly while insisting to Lance that "nothing's wrong, FORGET IT" , I can see myself doing it--it's as if I'm standing outside of my body watching, and I'm saying to myself "Don't do this, don't be such a bitch. Just let it go, let's have a good evening"--but I can't stop. All the resentments of the day, all the frustrations and the loneliness --all of it bubbles up in me and I hit Lance over the head with it, over and over, trying to make myself feel better.
Of course I love him. Just like I have the great moments with the kids, I have great moments with him, too. I don't fear for our marriage. But lately things that I used to find charming are just annoying. Lately when he offers to watch the kids so I can go out with friends I don't feel grateful. Lately, all the things he does around the house (and I know it doesn't seem like it from this post, but the truth is, he helps out a ton at home) don't endear him to me. Lately even some surprisingly good sex doesn't fix everything, not like it used to.
So, we are going to see a marriage counselor. (Of course, since I can't do anything without planning for the children (see above) we have to wait until August, when Vivian is in school (!). And making the appointment is just one more fucking thing for me to do.) Still, should be interesting, folks, and you'll be the first to hear all about it.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
1. Ever since we returned from Delaware, almost a full month ago, Isaac has been sleeping until anywhere from 7:15 to 8:00 am. You read that right. The boy who for an entire year has been unable to sleep past 5:45am on a good day, is actually sleeping in to a reasonable hour. I'm not sure what has brought about this happy event, except that he has been swimming a lot, and swimming seems to wear him out. Yeehaw.
(I won't mention here that my good sleeper, Vivian, has now decided that 7am is the latest she will sleep. Ever.)
2. At this moment, 2pm on Tuesday July 11th, Vivian is asleep in her crib without the crutch of her pacifier. She cried and whined for a little bit (10 minutes max) then took a bit longer to fall asleep than her usual 5 minute pass out routine, but that was the extent of it. We'll see what happens tonight, but if it was going to be this easy, I would have taken that thing away months ago!
Also, unrelated to the above: I am going out with some old work friends tonight. REAL LIVE FRIENDS WITHOUT BABIES!!! And we went out last night with some friends too. Two nights in a row without baby-duty is unheard of, people. Unheard of.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Scene: in the car.
Isaac: Are the puppets in the sky, Mom?
Me: What? Did you see something in the sky?
Isaac: See the puppeteers in the sky?
Me: What did you see, sweetie? Was it a kite?
Isaac: Is Papa T in the sky?
Me (getting it, finally): Oh! Yes, um, Papa T and Geedaddy* are both in heaven, honey. So, uh, yeah, they are in the sky looking down at us.
Vivian: They in the sky?
Me: Well, uh, yes, Vivian. They, um, died, but they are in heaven and they are looking down at us and loving us.
Isaac: They are looking at us from the sky? Are they far far away in the sky?
Me: Well, yes. Yes, they are far away. But you can always feel their presence. (Warming up to it) When someone loves you as much as Geedaddy and Papa T did, you can always feel them watching out for you, even after they die.
Vivian: You can feel der presents?
Me: Yes, you can feel how much they love you and know they will make sure you are taken care of.
Isaac: And you can open them up, too.
Me: Open them? Um . . .
Isaac: You can open up the presents in the sky. And see what they got you.
*Papa T is what Lance called his grandfather, who died a little over two years ago. Geedaddy is my grandfather, who also died two years ago.
Bullets, because otherwise I will never get around to writing this post.
1. California is really an entirely different country from Delaware. At least, it should be. Everything is different, and I'm always struck by that whenever I go home. I've been going home now for 15 years, and I'm still struck by it. The smells are different: the flowers, the trees, even the factories produce aromas that you just don't find in L.A. The light is different: in Delaware there are trees--big, leafy trees--that filter much of the sunlight, while California has smaller, thinner trees, trees that don't take up so much space, that don't offer the same kind of shade. The clouds are different, too: Delaware has the big, puffy cumulus clouds, clouds that change over the course of a day or a week. Los Angeles doesn't have clouds to speak of, not really. The enormous uninterrupted expanse of blue sky that you see in L.A. almost every single day does not exist in Delaware. Of course the climate is different--it's humid in Delaware: thick, oppressive, sweaty heat. Wet heat that moisturizes your skin and plumps up dry limp hair like mine. Not the mild, dry heat you get out here. But most of all, the people are different. People look different in Delaware. I've been trying to figure out why for as long as I've been living on the other coast. Is it the haircuts? The clothes? The Phillies caps and the Tevas? The genealogy? Definitely less Mexican, more Puerto Rican. Less Hispanic in general and more African American. More Italian, I think--only maybe it's just that there are more Southern Italians in Delaware and more Northern Italians in L.A. I don't really know how to describe this, but there is a "look" to people that I recognize the minute I get off the plane in Philadelphia, a "look" that feels as familiar to me as my mother's potato salad. Maybe it has nothing to do with genealogy and everything to do with me, and my nostalgia for home; I'm just not sure. But it fascinates me, every time I go home.
2. I love my family, all of them: my five aunts and uncles on my mother's side and their spouses and children, my two living grandmothers, my parents, my siblings, my brother-in-law, my niece and nephew. Even the 3 aunts and uncles on my fathers' side, who we rarely see, I have no issues with them. We have our typical family squabbles, but there is no high drama. However. However, I am very very glad to live 3000 miles away, and not only because I am afforded prodigal daughter status whenever I go home. Also because I have this very strong feeling that if I lived less than a mile from my parents, the way my sister does, I would not love my family nearly the same way. And they would not love me, either. My parents can be prickly; let's just leave it at that.
3. Lance and I do not get along around my parents. After 8 years of marriage and countless visits to my folks, we have not yet figured out how to appreciate each other the same way we do when we are in L.A. I'm sure part of me reverts to adolescent behavior when I'm around family, but Lance is also guilty. He feels threatened by how much I miss home and ends up acting snide and irrational when at home he'd be making jokes. Knowing that he feels threatened somehow does not translate into me toning down my "oh, I wish we had lightning bugs in California" comments but instead ratchets them up a notch. ( I've been known to complain that California doesn't have mosquitos--there's something I need to see a therapist about.) My mother loves to play "pick one child and gang up on them" games (no doubt learned in a childhood shared with 5 siblings) and Lance is thrilled to play along, especially if Amy is the victim. Lastly--and this one deserves a post of its own, but god knows when I'll get to it, since it requires retrospection and thought, something in short supply at the POW household lately--I seem to have married my father. And two controlling guys, used to having their own way, do not always mesh seamlessly. Throw in Lance's passive-aggressive tendencies and my own shrill, defensive and critical behavior and all is not always fun.
4. I'd love to talk about FFB here, but since he occasionally reads this blog (thanks again, Lance!) I guess I can't relay how annoying it is that he refuses to share his every thought and emotion with the rest of the clan. How, duh!, we all just want the best for him and why can't he just tell us what he's thinking so we can all dissect it to bits until we've solved all of his problems for him, without asking his permission. I will say that it's always, always great to have him around, and even if he doesn't feel the same way about the rest of us, we still smile bigger whenever he's in town. (Is this how it always is with the youngest? The youngest, the most loved, the one who doesn't necessarily return the love, he is the one we all want to be with? Is that why he doesn't share things with us? Because our love, our need, our want is too strong? FFB, elaborate.)
5. Isaac learned to swim. He can't lift his head to take a breath on his own yet, but he can easily swim 5 feet or more all by himself. I can't tell you how pleased I am about this, not least of all because we didn't have to attend any classes for this to happen. Vivian, of course, is not about to put her head under water, though she will blow bubbles on demand, and likes to float along the top step of the bubble yelling "Watch me! Watch me, Mommy, I swimming!!"
6. My sister lives less than a mile from my parents. (Did I mention?) Yikes. She is a saint. An occasionally opinionated, rigid, anal saint, but a saint nonetheless*. Though, she makes my niece and nephew do schoolwork during the summer. Isn't there some law against that? Shouldn't there be?
7. We spent a week at the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My parents own a rental property there, and for the last 4 or 5 years, my dad has allowed us to spend time there during the season. This is huge, as for the 15 years he owned the property before that we were only allowed to stay there during the winter, when it's cold and windy and there's nothing to do. We had a great time, and Lance couldn't complain about there feeling "claustrophobic" because he's so far away from the ocean. (God.) My niece, who is 9, loved babysitting, and my kids worshipped their older cousins (my nephew is 10). This made for a sometimes relaxing vacation, which those of you with toddlers know is an oxymoron.
8. Why can't my best friend--you know, one of the ONLY close friends I have with children--live on the West Coast? Why must she persist in staying in Delaware, so that I can't run over to her house with Vivian whenever I need a distraction? Her daughter is Isaac's age, and her son is the cutest two month old you've ever seen, and now I will not see them again until Christmas. Bah.
*If my sister had a blog, I can only imagine the adjectives she might use to describe me. (Clueless? Self-absorbed? Not-very-smart?)
And now, pictures:
Vivian and her cousin Sawyer, in the matching Lilly dresses my mother snuck out and bought, careful to remove the price tag before she presented them. Wasn't I talking about grandmotherly excess just the other day?
My best friends'** kids and my kids--don't they look like they'd all be great friends? If only we lived closer . . .
Isaac, jumping off the diving board. (Hmm, maybe you didn't actually need a description here. Uh, that's my nephew, Kitchel, standing on the side. There.)
. . and swimming:
Three generations (me, my mom, her mom, my sister):
At the beach:
**Don't worry, Heidi, you are also my best friend!
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Extremely yummy treat. Though I must confess: not good for the diet. Not good at all.
Here's what Daily Candy had to say about them.
P.S. Did I mention? Isaac has no school this week. NO SCHOOL. I'm just a little bit annoyed by that, oh and completely unable to steal a few minutes at the computer. Thank god my in-laws are out of town so we can head over to their house where there is a pool--but no computer access--today. Perhaps I'll have more for you this weekend. I know you're just DYING to hear from me. (Yeah, that vacation post is maybe still coming. I'm starting to forget where we even went for vacation though, it's been so long.)
Posted by Piece of Work at 1:04 PM
Saturday, July 01, 2006
When I was little, my grandparents lived on a farm about twenty miles from town. We spent hours there, as kids, playing in the barn, exploring the creek, chasing frogs and lightning bugs and squirrels, mucking out the stalls for the horses, and seeding, weeding and picking the numerous vegetables and fruits that grew there.
We got pretty dirty, doing that. We got scratched by thorns, and stung by bees, and bitten by ticks. We bruised our legs and got dirt under our fingernails. Splinters found their way into our arms and legs on a regular basis. Our faces were smeared with blueberry juice, dust and scabbed mosquito bites. But we loved it, every minute of it.
My siblings, my cousins and I would roam the twenty acres, building tree-forts, pretending to be Lewis and Clark, or Laura from Little House in the Prairie, creating elaborate games of hide and seek, fighting and making up and fighting some more. Then Grandma would call us in, to help Geedaddy cut the grass on one of the tractors, or to pick the berries for that night's dessert, or to snap beans by the pool.
I've been thinking about this lately, since it seems that wherever I go, people around me are afraid to get dirty. Afraid of bees, and mosquitos, and ticks. Afraid of germs and bugs and any kind of mess. Don't get me wrong, I'm older now, and it's not as if I'm out there digging in the dirt every day, but I don't have the same kind of visceral reaction to the . . .earth (because that's what it is, isn't it?) that other people seem to.
It started on vacation, when Lance discovered a tic. OH MY GOD, the freak-out that followed. It was as if an alien had latched onto his thigh, and was injecting him with some kind of high-potency cocaine. Turns out, he'd never had a tick bite before. I realize, of course, that ticks are slightly more nefarious these days, what with Lyme's disease and all, but I mean, really. It was a tick, not a skinhead wielding brass knuckles and a Swiss army knife.
Then, a mother complained at school, because when we leave, the kids love to run behind the little hedge and squeak by the Cyprus trees, which sometimes leaves old spider webs or dust on their shirts. "It's filthy back there!" she practically screamed, dragging her startled 3 year old away, while the other kids (including Vivian) giggled and pushed themselves through the "filthy" spot.
And our neighbors asked if we'd been to the carnival, and when I answered yes, seemed incredulous that we had stayed, despite the carneys' lack of teeth and the general dinginess of the rides.
That's not all. Everyday friends or acquaintances comment about dirt, relate stories of horror because they saw an ant near their food, or jump back in fright if nearby child sneezes in their general vicinity.
Childhood is meant to be dirty, that's the way I look at it. Hell, life is dirty; you can't sanitize everything.
Not to mention, who wants to live a sanitized life? You know how you get your heart broken, and you cry every day in the shower, and you don't know how you are going to keep getting up in the morning? How you call your old lover and hang up, just because you want to hear his voice? How you promise all sorts of things if he will just take you back? And then later, oh, you are so ashamed? What a mess you were! What a mess that was! That's my equivalent to the childhood practice of having your mother check your hair for ticks every summer night. It's dirty. It's messy. But it's life. And the dirty stuff--the mosquitos, the sand in your underwear, the drunk-dialing--only comes after some really good livin. (Yes, that's livin, L-I-V-I-N.)
I'm not sure if growing up the way I did has anything to do with my current tolerance for dirt, in many of its forms. It surprises me to think that other kids didn't do this kind of thing. I mean, even if you didn't have a farm to play on, any kind of child play--in a park, in the backyard, in the alley--gets you dirty, right? As kids, did we all just sit on the sidelines, afraid to get our Mary Janes scuffed?
What do you think? Are we, as a culture, just too damn obsessed with cleanliness? Or am I just an unapologetic slob?
Also, if the soles of your kids' feet are black from playing outside barefoot, is it okay to put them to bed without a bath? Just askin'.
Update: I should also add here that I am similarly blase about germs. I hate those anti-bacterial wipes. My kids get sick, and then they get well again. I don't want them growing up afraid of a cold. I don't want them afraid to touch the door knob at a public restroom (well, most public restrooms). I know I'm in the minority here, but so far, Vivian and Isaac have been sick no more or no less than your average germophobic kid. Yes, we wash hands, but that's about the extent of it.
In the spirit of full disclosure, my husband says I should admit that mice and other rodents freak me the fuck out. My tolerance level for the animal kingdom stops around spider size.