Thursday, January 31, 2013

Grocery Goodwill

Tonight I had to pick up a prescription, and my daughter wanted to come.  We looked at the candy aisle, and I got the idea to head to this weird little discount grocery store close-by.  One of my favorite things to do is wander around in interesting grocery stores, especially in foreign countries, but this one suffices when I'm stuck here. 

We walked down every aisle and came home with the following:

Cinnamon-cookie flavored coffee.
 Hard pear cider six-pack.
Shrimp-flavored chips.
Jelly-belly "belly flop" jellybeans (the defective ones).
Jolly Rancher chewy candies.
Spiderman cereal.
Monterey Jack cheese.

My daughter skidded up and down the aisles.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hands

Today, I thought about hands.

I got the happy surprise last night of my daughter telling me that she fixed the CD player in my car, the one that had a disc stuck in it for the last three years.  We'd researched and found out that the CD players in our make and model of car often break, and we didn't really bother to go about the expense of fixing it.  A couple days ago, our daughter, while waiting for her friend to come into our car, attempted to climb onto the dashboard and somehow, with her small fingers in the air vents near the player, jostled things enough to eject the disc.  Presto.  I add here that her dad was in charge, not me.  His more lenient ways got our player fixed.

So this morning I happily tested it out with a recording of songs from our church.  The kids were not only not snippy with each other, but they seemed happier than they are on our usual mornings with NPR.  My daughter loves to sing, not ever being deterred by not knowing words.  She pretends she does, singing made-up words that hit the right long vowels here and there, always a beat or so behind.  If she'd ever just listen to a song from start to finish, her quick memory would have the song learned, but no, she wants to sing; consequently, it takes her a very long time to learn the right words.  She can't hear the words over her own voice.  I love this about her.

 My friend from Liberia who rides to work with me every Tuesday sat down in my car and immediately starting singing, even before her seatbelt was snapped, the exact same way my daughter does.  These are original songs written mostly by the pastor of the church, a church she's never set foot in.  For her, this didn't matter.  She'd hum along, then echo one or two words of what had just been sung.

As we waited to enter the freeway, she noticed the new color I'd put on my hair over the weekend to cover my grays.  She asked what brand it was, where to get it.  She reached out and gently took strands of my hair to inspect, to hold up to more light.  She placed them back in place and said, "Gir, it so cue!" (Girl, it's so cute!).  This tiny reaching of her older hands to my head made me realize we've reached that happy place in friendship of comfortable familiarity.

At work, an East African elder noticed that I'm recovering from a cold, and acted out a home remedy for me to use.  Make a tea from hot water, ginger, lemon, honey, and crushed garlic.  He took my left hand in his, forming it into a mortar.  His other hand became the pestle, pounding imaginary garlic cloves into my palm.  He smiled at me, nodded, raised his eyelids, then held my hand until I had to get up again.  He's a hand-holder, something I love about him.  He holds my hand to cross the street, to walk through the zoo or an art museum.

It hit me today that six African hands affected me today in concrete ways.  Through the results my little Ethiopian daughter's hands, the Liberian lady sang my church songs this morning in my car while she used her hands to inspect and smooth my hair.  The Oromo elder used his hands to show me a home-cure in my winter illness.  How blessed I am today to have been so touched.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sad

Oh, it's so tempting not to record anything, so easy to let this daily habit slip.

In my usual time of day to write here, I feel sad, thanks to two of my favorite TV shows that regularly make me cry, this Monday even more so.

Downton Abbey with a death.  Parenthood with an adoption ceremony.

The shrimp scampi I made for dinner tonight was so kick-ass.  Too bad I could hardly eat any due to intense pain in my jaw after a dentist appointment.

When this is what I have to say, the temptation not to write is sorta reinforced.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Whisper at 11:30

My son last night couldn't fall asleep.  He has inherited this from me.  He kept appearing behind me, snuggly in one hand, thumb in his mouth as I brushed my teeth or changed clothes or washed my face.  About the fifth time of sending him back to his bed, he appeared in the hallway again, standing quietly at the threshold of the door.

He whispered something so quietly that I had to stoop down to him for him to say it again.  In the same tiniest wisp of a whisper, he said in my ear, "Mom, I want to lay down next to you." 

He climbed into bed and fell asleep next to me at 11:30 as I read Yes, Chef, a memoir about another Ethiopian boy adopted by a white mother. 

I kept stealing glances at him next to me on the pillow as he fell asleep.  I was so thankful he still needs me like this sometimes.

He complained about the pillow being 'itchy', so I picked him up and carried him into his own bed.

This morning he sneaked into my room, unplugged my phone and took it downstairs to play games on.  Today is my fake birthday, and he loudly helped his dad make burnt bacon for me.  The noise woke me up.  Back to his normal self.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dreams

An elder entered my car this morning talking about the dream she had last night.  She had climbed a light pole and was hanging on as it swayed over a river while her stepsons tried to get in through the gate of her house.

She went into why she thinks she had this dream.  It was a sad story about family dysfunction and jealousy.  She said that she hardly knew her younger daughter as she grew up because she worked seven days a week to pay the mortgage.

After she worked on her scarf in knitting group, made a mosaic of a waterfall in art class, and ate a catered Somali lunch, she left for a trip downtown to run a stressful errand.  I gave her directions, what bus to take, where to get off, but she knows this city better than I do and said she'd go her own way.

I hugged her goodbye and told her 'no more bad dreams'.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Teacher

I was doing dishes from dinner while my kids cleaned the table.  Carol King's song "Chicken Soup with Rice" (based on the Maurice Sendak Nutshell Library and one of my son's favorite songs from his third year of life) was playing from the computer next to the kitchen.

Out of the blue, my son said, "Mom did you know that you are teaching me how to treat my own kids if I have kids some day?"

"Where did this come from?!"  I couldn't help being surprised by seeming randomness and profundity of the statement/question.

He said he didn't know where it came from.

"So, what kind of job am I doing?"

"Mostly good."

"But not totally good?"

"But mostly."

"What do I do that's not good?"

"I don't know."  He shrugged and handed me the washcloth. 

I was hoping for more specifics of areas to improve, but wow, what a reminder out of nowhere.  I saw this thing online somewhere saying that the way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice, or something like that.  According to my five-year-old, the way I treat him not only becomes his inner voice but will be the way he treats his own kids. 

Big reminder for a Wednesday night.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sinus Fog

I caught my daughter's sickness, which, like always, erupts in my body as a sinus infection, no matter the original symptoms of the infector. 

So through a fog of sickness was Tuesday.

Nine hours of sleep, thanks to a very early bedtime last night, waking up before the alarm.  Hot oatmeal for the kids' breakfast, which was devoured like hungry bear cubs.  Early arrival at school (second time in two years), stop for coffee at the French bakery next to my Liberian friend's house.  I pick her up for her exercise class like every Tuesday, and we laugh about the crazy man on the train yesterday afternoon, the one who tried to get a game of duck-duck-goose going among the passengers.

Finally, the big work project that was out of my realm of expertise was over, and I could catch up on what I most love doing.  I got to refer one man to the housing his family needs, within his price range. Another I edited foreign court documents for so he can hopefully bring his wife here to this country.  I made color copies of his daughters' passport-sized photographs for him to take home.  They looked stiff and nervous, this perhaps being their first photograph.  They were beautiful, both had their father's kind eyes.  Another man at work belly-laughed when I showed him a photo I took yesterday of him wearing huge paper elephant ears at the zoo.  He just couldn't stop giggling, which made me so happy.

A solo trip to the grocery store where I discovered in the 'foreign' aisle my favorite Irish tea, not buying any even though it's 50 cents cheaper than the small Irish-owned specialty shop I normally buy it.

My son and I colored two pages from his coloring book about Peter Pan.  He admitted he's not "into" Peter Pan anymore, preferring now super heroes.  I made my Peter match my son's skin and hair color.  He smiled. 

Dishes, laundry, dinner out of the oven, table manners, bath-time, the chores of a hausfrau. 

Tuesdays always seem so busy.  The days most easily swept over in the rush.  I'm trying my best to keep looking.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Nesikovna

I go months and even more than a year not speaking Slovak, and then I'm forced to do it twice in one week.  I use the word 'forced' because I'm not like my husband who jumps at the chance to use his German language skills.  I get red-faced and shy when put in a situation where I could access that dormant part of my brain.

Earlier this week, I helped the toothless Russian lady at work.  Today at a party at my kids' school, a lady I know who is married to a Czech guy and knows I used to live in Slovakia, approached me to tell me how she was going to introduce me to their newly arrived Czech nanny who doesn't speak English.

I scrambled to switch that part of my brain the "on" setting, and she quickly appeared to introduce us.  The mom I know speaks excellent Czech, so my face immediately burned red as we plunged right into it.  She laughed at my nervousness and left me to be a listening ear to her Czech nanny.

It actually helped that we were in an auditorium full of blaring music by a professional DJ and about two hundred dancing and yelling children.  It somehow felt easier to fudge my errors if I was screaming them.  It was also helpful when the nanny told me that the only language she speaks is Czech (surprising actually considering how multi-lingual most Europeans are); I felt she was much more sympathetic to my being so very 'nesikovna' (inept).

All in all, I hope she enjoyed having someone besides her host family who could understand her.  I also hope she forgets how I completely spaced on the word for Easter, describing it as that day when boys throw water on girls.  Her eyes lit up as she got what I was talking about, adding,"The day when boys beat the girls with sticks too!"  Yeah, that holiday.

I could never forget the beer.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sullen

My husband and I stayed up last night deconstructing the sullen phase our son has been in for the last couple months.  By getting to the root, we hope to make the switch in him.  Easier said than done.

Yesterday afternoon at pick up from school, he stormed off in (fake?) anger upon getting the news that we couldn't stay to play.  As his amazing teacher gave me a fifteen second summary of his day, he stood around a corner, arms crossed, glaring at me.  I got down on his level and made a stupid joke.  He wouldn't look at me but still smiled.

I can't remember what all we said, but it became clear that his grouchy behavior was a choice he was making.  I told him that he was being rude and that he needed to tell me one nice thing about me.  He threw his hands up in exasperation and said, "There's too many!"  I smiled and told him that was probably the nicest thing he could have said.  He smiled back.

We held hands and walked to the car.  He still complained about not staying to play.

This morning he crawled into bed with me and assumed the spoon-mode we have snuggled in since he was an infant.  We laid like this for twenty minutes.  I rested my cheek on the top of his head, and he started to ask what we could do together before school, just me and him since his sister is still sick.

He was torn between coloring his spiderman book together or going to his favorite little coffee shop near his school, the one where he used to get cans of San Pellogrino or Martinellis juice in the little bottles shaped like apples.  He finally made me decide, so of course I went for the shop option.  We sat together on a leather couch while he downed his hot chocolate.

He took off the lid and discovered leftover whipped cream with sprinkles in the bottom of his cup.  We'd had no idea it was there.  I asked if he wanted a spoon but he wanted to slurp it up through the straw.  As he took the last bit, he said, "Wow, mom, that was really nice of them wasn't it?"

He was so grown up to me then. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chlieb

The Russian-speaking lady I work with a couple times a week was gone on an appointment today, so all of her Russian clients kept approaching me speaking rapid-fire, geriatric-style Russian, mistaken that I might actually understand them.  The most I could muster was a smile and shrug as answer to where she was once they figured out that I don't speak Russian.

Not being able to answer them was getting frustrating, so I tried in my best, very rusty Slovak language to tell them that I thought she was coming back.   I sat among the African and Bhutanese elders I spend most of my time with until one of the meal volunteers came to me asking if I could help her figure out what one old lady was saying.    I said I couldn't but stood up anyway to try.

A short, toothless babushka in a paisley scarf started in with her quick toothless Russian, and, wonder-of-wonders, miracle-of-miracles, I understood enough words here and there to get what she wanted. 

She wanted a loaf of the day-old bread that is donated every week from a very fancy French bakery in town.   Her friends had all gotten one, and the plucky old lady had missed it.  I felt so relieved.  As we waited for the volunteer to bring a loaf, I attempted a few words of encouragement in my rusty Slovak: I hope it's there! We'll see! Just wait!

Ah, it worked.  The bread appeared.  Spasiba.

After Bedtime

About ten minutes into that episode of Downton Abbey I started last night, I hears someone creeping down our stairs.  Our sick seven-year-old appeared around the corner saying she couldn't sleep, so I gave a present I hope she always remembers.

Whenever I couldn't sleep as a kid, especially on a school-night, I would also creep out of my room and enter that normally off-limits world my parents existed in after my sister and I went to bed.  The TV was almost always on, usually the news or M*A*S*H*.   The house felt different.  My parents were different, more relaxed, laughing at jokes I didn't get and sipping drinks that would make me gag if I tasted one on accident.

I guess it's because she wasn't going to school today, but I decided to just let her stay up with me.  I told her to pull up a chair which she did with a mild look of shock on her face.  She'd already expressed interest in watching DA with me, and I think because she knew she was existing there on borrowed time, she just sat silently and watched.  I paused every couple minutes in the beginning to get her up to speed on who as connected to whom and what was going on.  She seemed to get it.  She really seemed interested.

A couple times I'd react to something, look over at her, and see her reacting the same way.  It hit me last night while we watched this show together that having a daughter is going to eventually provide me with a solid buddy to do stuff with.  My big sister has two daughters who she does almost everything with (they are much older than my kids).  They are extremely close. 

My own daughter and I snacked on fancy crackers after bedtime while watching a show about the British aristocracy, and it was fun.  Who knew?  I hope she remembers last night too.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday

Right now, my entire mouth is sore after a torturous appointment at the dentist.

Our daughter will be missing her second day of school tomorrow with some ailment that had her fever up to 103.4 this afternoon.  Through it all, she wanted to work on her reading tonight and for me to color her Hello, Kitty book with her.

Today it snowed wispy little flurries that almost made up their minds to stick.

A friend and I drove two of the elders I work with to visit their old art teacher, the one recovering (hopefully) from cancer.  She is no longer driving and now uses a walker full-time.   I was so happy to see her.  We will come again next week.

Our son, who has been resistant to much regarding church, was singing one of the gospel songs to himself tonight during dinner.  One of the things I love best about our church is the music, and it made me happy to hear his little voice singing.


I made chicken broth and chicken salad for lunches after more meetings at work about a project.  I could work on the project tonight but will, instead, watch the newest episode of Downton Abbey.

That was Monday.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Church

I haven't been excited about a church in years.  The places we've been a part of here have been too big, too loud, too hipster, too white or a combination of all of those. 

I'm now excited about church.  Since October, we have been going to a small place with only about 200 people (tops) that is intentionally racially mixed.  In this very racially complicated city we live in, it blows my mind that this church exists. 

On our way to church this morning, our daughter started asking us about Martin Luther King.  She told us what she knew about him already, and we filled in some gaps.  She was thinking hard about it all.  I told them the story about how the manager at my job got flown to Atlanta once to be given a key to the city from Martin Luther King Jr.'s very own son for his work in peace-building in central Africa.  Their eyes got really big, and she said she wants to meet him too one day.  I love that our kids are thinking about this, setting goals for themselves based on real-life heroes.

This morning as service was wrapping up and the amazing singers and band were belting out words like "he loves us, oh, how he loves us..." I couldn't help getting teary.  My husband had done a basic head-count and found that the group congregated this morning was truly about 50% not-white, 50% white.  The pastor stood up to send everyone off into the world for the week and said that he would be speaking next Sunday about Martin Luther King, Jr.

It's only Sunday night, and I'm already excited for next week.  We're going to let our daughter stay in 'big church' to hear it. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

"Love you"

A funny thing happened to me twice in less than a day.  Both times, I felt the same awkwardness.

The daughter of one of my good friends threw up at our house last night about ten minutes after they got here.  I mean, she really threw up.  In it were chunks of feta cheese from the pasta I'd made the day before.  They changed into some of our t-shirts and left.

Her daughter threw up six more times over the next two hours.  She's a little peanut of a girl, so everyone was worried.  Finally, after consulting with me and people who actually know something about this sort of thing, my friend decided to take her in to the ER.  After she finished giving me the short run-down over the phone, I wished them well and told her to keep me in the loop with what was going on.  In a semi-frantic goodbye, she said, "Okay, I will, love you."

I smiled and blurted out shyly that I loved her too.  Those aren't easy words for me to say, no matter how much I may mean them.

A woman in her 80's who used to teach art in the program I work is fighting cancer.  I've known her for a solid two years (maybe longer? I lose track of time).   I honestly did not like her when we first met.  She is a little bit off her rocker about some things, but I have always had a soft spot for folks like this, and I have missed seeing her over the last six months or so.

I called her today to tell her that I and some of her former students really want to come visit.  She was thrilled with the news and, with a similar semi-frantic goodbye as my friend last night, said, "Okay, I look so forward to seeing you all! Love ya!"

I felt the same thing: an initial awkwardness that quickly morphed into a warmth in my chest that spread up into my neck and face, ending with my tilting my head and smiling.  I felt all at once so embarrassed and happy and then wanting to cry as I thought about this old friend of mine letting slip that she loved me (and all of us, she probably meant, her old class of immigrant elders who thankfully could never understand much of her semi-racist comments and questions).

The love is still there.  It's funny how true that can be, how love can exist and thrive among such different sorts of people and how it's sometimes only through some threat of emergency or death that we express those feelings.

 I've never been good at these expressions.  I have this sister-in-law who, every time I see her, grabs me around my hips and kisses both my cheeks in this really forceful way that I could never fight.  I feel like I end up limply hugging her back and wincing at her affection even though her aggressive hugs always make me feel loved.  I'm funny that way.  I have no idea why I am so reticent about showing my love for people.

Last night and today, with my two friends who let slip they love me, my heart literally feels that love as I ruminate on this post.  There's an ache of love in my chest that would make me cry if I kept thinking about it.

So in the stoic fashion I was born with, I'll end this post, pour myself a glass of wine, find some TV to watch before bed, and definitely stop using the word "ruminate."


Ohm

Yesterday afternoon, it was that time in the afternoon when writing practice starts.  The kids cleaned up from 'choice time' and met at the carpet in front of their teacher's chair.  As most of them waited for her and a couple of stragglers, one kid started humming a low "ohm."  A few more joined in.  It got loud enough that I stopped what I was doing to see what was going on.

A group of about fifteen of them (including my boy) were sitting there in meditation pose, cross-legged, eyes closed, palms upward with middle fingers and thumbs touching.  They were, in unison, spontaneously 'ohm'ing.

I swapped amused glances with the hilarious teacher-aid for the kids with special needs.  I whispered to her, "What are they doing?"

Her answer, "Shhh...be careful.  It's a trap."

For her, it's sinking in.

My son, "Mom, what if I can't fall asleep?"

"Well, you could think about your playdate tomorrow after with A and how exciting that will be."

"No, that's not what helps me go to sleep at all.  If I think about that, I can't sleep."

"You could think about hot dogs and how full your belly is."

I get a thumbs down from the boy.

My daughter interjects from the top bunk, "Or you could think about how much God loves you and your family loves you and how even when they get really mad at you, that doesn't make the love go away."

Thank you, Fred Rogers, for this book.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Other Magical Organ

I giggled out loud when the liver cancer specialist showed us a slide of a cherry tree.  I was that interested in livers by this point that I couldn't help it.  She explained that while on a walk outside, she noticed that the branches of this tree matched perfectly the major blood pathways in a human liver, so she snapped a photo to use in presentations like this one. 

The last hour of the two-hour workshop on liver cancer was fascinating (I'd already participated in ones on colon and breast cancer, neither of which were as 'meaty' as this one on the liver).  Due to having to come in half and hour late, it took me some time to catch up with what she'd already explained about what exactly the liver does for us and how things like Hep A, B, C, and cirrhosis affect things.  I, at one point, had to will my eyes to stay open, and boy am I glad I did.

I'll just skip right to the best part.  I knew already that the liver is the only internal organ that can regenerate.  I mean, it grows back if some of it gets cut off.  That, in itself, is creepy and wonderful.  She explained that a patient can have up to 75% of his liver cut off to remove tumors.  Sew the dude back up and guess how long it would take for this organ to grow back to its original size.

I asked my husband, and he guessed a year.  That was what I thought too.

But no, oh no.  A liver can grow back to its original weight (no bigger and no smaller even...exactly as it was) withing one month.  One measly month.  She said that the patient feels a lot of fatigue during this month because...yeah, the body is growing itself a liver.  That would wear me out too.

I just found it fascinating.  I could go on and on about it (not really).  It did make me think about how much I wish we had multiple lives to lead.  When I gasped out a loud "Woooow!" at her one-month bit of information, she nodded at me and high-fived me with a "IKR?!"  Not really, but she pretty much could have by the way her eyes got dreamy as she explained how "magical" this organ is and how much she loves her job.  I get that. I wanted to applaud her.

I wasn't born with what it takes to be in the medical field, but I sure to understand why people are drawn to this field of study.

The best part of my day was seeing this physician spend her life waxing poetic about livers to the point of seeing them in flowering fruit trees.  What a joy.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday

Monday, the rearrival of the schedule.

Packaged oatmeal leftover from the New Year's trip with dollops of kefir thrown in to cool it off and add nutrition.  Toast with mango butter.

Monthly staff meeting with a half-drunk cup of coffee in the travel mug that now tastes like plastic.  Time reportage policies.  Harassment policies.  Program updates. 

Meeting with folks from the city about a restoration/garden project that might happen if a grant is awarded.  I have somehow become the overseer of this project, which is out of my element.  I put my head down on the table at one point, overwhelmed, wondering how I got there.  Exchange of business cards.  Work ahead.  People are so nice and want good things to happen.

Where is my degree in public policy and community health?  My degree in literature is of little help.

Early pick-up from school for a dentist appointment.  So proud as my son shares his Star Wars Phonetics 10-book pack during "show and tell."  He was amazingly so concise.  He took two questions: one from a boy, another from a girl.  First show-and-tell.  He sat straight.  He has it in him.

A fight over pushing the buttons in the elevator to the dentist.  Daughter goes bravely back all on her own.  Son works on homework as I read about Kate Middleton's pregnancy in a People magazine.  The appointment ends sooner than I though, which disappoints me.  I wanted the quiet time to read fluff.

Home.  Put quiche in oven (prepped yesterday) and out on solo shopping trip in a futile search for chuck taylors for husband.  Return items, buy hair dye and fabric softener.  Home again.  Eat the quiche while reviewing daughter's spelling words.  She got hung up on 'everything'.   Practice counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s with daughter who struggles some with math. 

Make greek pasta for tomorrow's dinner.  Lots and lots of dancing to Michael Jackson.  Pack lunches for kids.  Bath.  Tears because I decline the offer of getting in the bath with my son. 

Game of uno.  Sing "The Lord is Good to Me." 

"Mom, what if I can't sleep?"

"Close your eyes, think about your favorite songs, and you'll be asleep."

By 8:25, all was quiet upstairs, and the dog is licking the stolen cat food tin behind me. 

Glass of pinot grigio.  The rest of Downton Abby.

That was Monday.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Clap and Cheer

2013 Reading Goal

We left town for New Year's and had spotty internet connection at night, the time I have tried to set aside for blogging.  It made me realize how easy it is to get out of the habit of writing, especially now that January has hit and our days seem to be filled with the mundane.  I mean, come on, my last post was about what we watched on TV Friday night.

I suppose this is the challenge for me then, to make sure I'm looking for the small moments, the way my son's kindergarten teacher tells the class to write about "one small moment" in their writing workshops.  We're not going to be taking interesting trips to snowy mountains every weekend like we did for New Year's (not that I wrote about any of that), so I need to make sure my eyes are open to things around me now that we're back in the gray of winter in the city.

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions (or "revolutions" as our son calls them), but I do see the value in setting goals for myself, so one goal I've set is to make sure I am making time for books this year.  My goal is at least two a month, and I've started with Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden.  One of the nice perks of living in a bookish city is that it's easy to find used books for super cheap.  I currently have stacks of them that I found in 2012 from yard sales and used book sales, some for as low as 25 cents.  My husband wanted to get me a kindle for Christmas, but I would feel too guilty having it, not reading the stacks in my house.  So my goal is to work my way through these.  I want to find a sidebar widget to keep track.


TV time

No, we don't watch much TV anymore since being in such a busy phase of life, so it felt really nice on Friday night, after a short doze on the couch while the kids whispered, to eat snacks for dinner and catch up on screen-time.  It couldn't have been a more relaxing night.

My husband watched a documentary about the food industry on his laptop; our son watched Disney's Peter Pan in the guest room, and I got caught up on Parenthood.  Our seven-year-old sat beside me the whole time watching with me.  It hit me that one of the nicest things about having a daughter is going to be doing stuff like this together. 

My big sister has two almost-grown daughters who "pile up in the bed" with her every weekend and watch movies.  It's something I think my own daughter is going to be on board with.  I was a little worried that the drama of the show would affect her in a bad way, so I made a point of letting her know there is a lot of yelling in this show but that everyone really loves each other, and they all make up eventually.  She learned quickly the two truths about the show: 1. There are always multiple scenes of people screaming at each other and 2. Her parents 99% of the time cry, sometimes multiple times.  Craig T. Nelson makes my husband tear up more than any (what a great actor).

That was that.  Friday night. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Thick of Life

The other day as I drove my kids to school, a Sheryl Crow's song "My Favorite Mistake" came on the radio, a song that was very popular when I lived in Europe, so I started thinking about how my kids know so little of that part of my life and how for kids, their parents didn't really exist until they were born.  At least that's how it was for me as a kid.  I remember hearing my parents make reference to things from their lives before us kids, and it felt like they were just talking about strangers.  How could they have possibly lived a life before I entered it?

The manager where I work talked about the same thing today.  He was listing all the famous world leaders he has met and had dinners with, along with all the places he has lived and worked.  I was pretty fascinated to hear these stories of his work in South Africa, Bosnia, Hungary, Chad, Libya, Croatia, among others.  He got quiet for a couple seconds, shook his head, and said, "Man, I used to have a life."

I laughed at him, and said, "And then you got married and had kids," which made him laugh.  He then had me google a university peace program he was a part of, look through the archives and find his photo. I bet his kids know little about this part of his life either.

Today was a very busy day for me with lots of stuff going on at work (I so love my job), errands, girl scout meeting about cookie sales, room parent responsibilities, dinner, straightening up the house, overseeing homework, and our church small group.  In the middle of this day, specifically as my daughter and I were leaving her school in the winter early darkness because she'd forgotten her backpack there, I got into the car and suddenly had the thought that I'm living a phase of life that I'm going to look back on with nostalgia.  Yes, it's busy, and I hardly have time to watch movies or read books anymore, but this phase right now with two young grade school kids, a job I love, a church we're (finally!) really excited about, a new kitchen-aid mixer, a community of good people around us... it feels good. 

In some ways, this feels like the "thick" of life, the part I spent my youth preparing for.  I'm in it.   

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Dentist

I hugged teachers this morning at school.  I can't help wondering how they processed recent tragedies. 

The writing assignment in my son's class this afternoon was to think and write about a highlight from the holidays.  There were a lot of sentences about sledding and sleeping in cabins and big family dinners.

My favorite was the little girl who drew a picture of herself, a huge frown on her face, being pulled by her father to the dentist.  Some people are effortlessly funny.  This is the same child who, during a very loud meltdown by her special needs classmate, covered her ears and sharply said, "Oy vey! That's hurting my ears!"

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's

I didn't mean to cry my way through an explanation to my five-year-old of the song "Man in the Mirror," but there it was anyway.  It's a fitting enough song for New Year's Day, I figured.  His eyes got big as my voice broke.  He locked eyes with me as a few tears spilled out.  He said that if we can change ourselves, that means we're magic.

In the other room, my daughter did a yoga lesson from a video I got in a summer yard sale 'free' box.  That was her resolution.