Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Twenty questions

... in no particular order ...

1. Are you mad at me?

2. When are you going to come home?

3. When is daddy coming home?

4. What does pen pal mean?

5. Where is Taiwan?

6. What does preprosterous mean?

7. Is today a school day?

8. Why do you have to work?

9. Why do I always have to go to bed before Silas?

10. Who do you love more? Me or Silas?

11. Why are you always cleaning up?

12. Why don't we have cats?

13. When are we going to go to that place where the other Maya lives and go swimming?

14. Why do pigs eat only the rinds of the watermelon?

15. Did you bring me any specials?

16. What does it mean? Inquisitive?

17. When do I get to ride the school bus?

18. But isn't a cube a square?

19. How come an oval isn't a circle?

20. Can I write in Lori for President?

Monday, September 29, 2008

His bark is NOT worse

bat boy, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

... than his bite.

I've got a 10-day supply of antibiotics to prove it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's not play money

play money from taiwan

I am not scared witless about the economy. Not really. I'm kind of just holding my breath and thinking maybe it would be wise to spend a little money on some of the things we might not be able to get later. ... you know ... when we'll need a wheelbarrow full of money to buy bread and cheese.

I figure, whatever happens most of us will be in the same boat. A dingy.

But I'll tell you what ... I'm not a huge fan of the "bailout." I would feel better if Bush wasn't trying to send $700 billion down the toilet without even watching it circle around.

More specifically, I'm not a fan of bailing out the securities industry. I'd rather Silas' grandchildren's tax dollars buy something more solid. Like the mortgages these greedy bastards f*ed up in the first place. Let the firms fail, I say. The money won't disappear. It will just be reapportioned.

I say let the ship sink. Let's save as many of the souls in the lifeboats as we can.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In the swing

annabel swings, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Sun dappled orchard.

Sideways swing.

Pink cowgirl rain boots.

Good friends.

Walking up BIG hills, hand in hand.

Waving off bees.

Taste tests and "pick-ur-own."

A boy who throws apples.

Another who likes goats.

A girl who picked ALL the apples.

Another who ate them under the trees.

$11 a half-bushel.

$10 for pumpkins bigger than your head.

Being tired from carrying a gazillion pounds of produce and progeny?

Worth every penny.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

From Day One

I was tired. More tired than I remember being the first time. More tired than I expected being.

Probably the loss of blood and the depletion of iron; anemia. I didn't care.

Everything was different the second time around. It was summer, not winter. The birth was scheduled, not an emergency. I was already a mother. This time I had more experience than my baby. I was having a boy. I was scared but ready.

It felt good. It felt natural. It felt amazing.

He was different, too. He seemed to soak up my experience and morph it into a warm blanket of security; confidence beyond his minutes. He became calm the moment he heard my voice, he latched painlessly right away. He slept in my arms.

He never made a sound as the nurses wheeled his bassinet into the room, saying "Mama, you have one HONGRY boy." But he never cried. I had to laugh as his wide open eyes looked my way through the clear plastic cot; mouth opening and closing like a prize fish.

My son. I never wanted to let him go. The nurses had to come and find him and take him back to their florescent lit lair for weigh-ins and check-ups. I often awoke to them clucking satisfied when they found us dozing together, and felt cool air hit the place his tiny form was keeping warm.

I remember the anxious waiting for the biggest introduction of my life; the moment big sister would meet little brother. It felt like days and crept by. She was crying with happiness when she looked at his tiny face, she begged to open his blanket so she could look at his hands.

"I love your baby, mama. He's so cute."

"You know ... he's your baby, too."

"I love my new baby!"

**Wishing you, Rebecca, and you, Kristin, all the best a new baby has to give. Peace. Joy. Hope

Friday, September 19, 2008


swing annabel, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

"Mama! Look at me. Look at me," she said when she saw me in the playground. I'd finally managed to finish my chores at the Marilla Cuthbert Academy for Unspeakably Charming Children, where I was appearing for the first time this season as the appointed parent slave "Special Day Girl's Special Person."

She was swinging. Back and forth. Back and forth. Her legs stretched out straight ahead as she swung forward. They bend, toes inward, as she hurls back toward the trees.

"I got it started myself."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A year in a day

smile morning, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

This morning wasn't smiley.

It wasn't filled with anything the light of day is supposed to bring: New hope, second chances, clean slates.

Some mornings are like that; darker than the night.

It got me thinking about how many times I've felt the surge of uncertainty wandering about on tiptoes. How many times have my highs been higher and my lows lower?

Am I going crazy? This time last week I felt content? Or did I? Am I just remembering it wrong?

See? Crazy.

I could go back, dust off the journals of my youth as others have -- mostly trying to poke fun of their sophomoric style and melodramatic contents -- in search of an origin. But really the thought doesn't interest me in much the same way class reunions don't interest me: I didn't really like myself back then. I don't really care to spend anymore time in the awkward light of my youthful self.

I am a different me now. At least I think I am. I am mostly content.

Yet I still write it down: The high notes and the lows, the tones of the mundane; thinking maybe something will be important. Maybe one thing will connect all the others.

And this thought made me realize just what it is writing this way allows me to do. It allows me to back and wade through the waves of thoughts as they happened. Lay it all out as if an electrocardiogram and chart the peaks and valleys.

Something to suggest a problem. Maybe even a diagnosis.

I tinker.

And as such, I decided to read back over a year in a day. The first year I jump this blog from the Web site of simple paragraphs and bits and pieces of Annabel's first two years.

Reading backward --as I hope my children will do one day to understand who I was or what I proclaimed to be -- it occurs to me now that these ramblings might teach me things about myself I might not wish to know.

Things that suggest a pattern.

I started this "blog" on the last day in March, 2005. I'd used up all the low-cost space I could at my sad little Web site on Tripod, and jumped here after realizing the convenience of this different, more interactive platform.

The posts were generally the same as the Web site had been: brief, no more than a paragraph or two in length, and matter of fact. I wrote blandly of what we'd done that day as if I was a skilled mother "marveling" at the amazing creature that was my daughter. The feelings were as honest and raw as my first crush turned crushing.
But it wasn't really my voice.

Soon into the foray, Annabel got sick and had to be hospitalized. I spent days in the hospital by her bedside. The worst of it in the emergency room before we knew the illness was caused by a simple virus that would pass. But still – Hospital; Four days; Meeting families in the hallway at night whose children weren't as lucky.

She was 15 months old.

After she was born and up until then, I'd had some strange feeling that everything would be alright. I'd never been a cheery person, mind you, but after she was born I felt as if it was all going to work out fine.

A short time after the hospital stay, that good feeling disappeared.

For the next few months, I tried to claw it back but it was gone. I tried to ignore the rivers of unease that flowed through me; address it only randomly and vaguely. This too shall pass. It all does.
That "good feeling" never did return, but I was able to keep the bad feeling from going over my head.

I wrote about the words, the things she said and did. I wrote about the moments that I knew I wouldn't remember on my own. I rarely put myself in the picture. It was all about her.

Silas is 15 months old tomorrow.

He is right where Annabel was when things seemed to get so far away from me.

I’m reading a year in a day, and hoping to recognize myself. Hoping to answer my own questions of who I thought I was; who I am. Hoping to find a trace of something I didn't know I was leaving behind.

Something to make me smile tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Moving meditation

denise's labyrinth, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Sometimes walking in circles quiets the mind.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Goodnight, little Squeak

Cheshire cat, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I am not a cat person.

But I am a tolerant person; and as a tolerant person I must admit that there are cats, which, from time to time make me rethink my aversion.

Squeek, our porch-lounging neighbor's cat, was one of those felines.

She was the anti-cat.

A sweet little calico, she got her name not only from her penchant to 'talk' but also the timber of her voice. She was neither timid nor feisty. She was friendly toward the children, even the tiny screamer who likes to pull tails. She greeted us every time we came home, rolled onto her belly in front of our path and begged for affection. Even if we were carrying groceries we had to stop and give her a pat. She just seemed to have a smile in whatever she was doing.

But last night she was hit by a car driving through our "driveway."

She didn't survive.

We are all saddened by her loss, especially Annabel who loved her more than pretty much any animal she's ever known. Even Maggie.

Goodnight, little Squeak. We will miss you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

*whispers* Love

rebel rebel, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Dear Silas,

You know we love you, right?

You know that when your father is stumbling around the bedroom in the pitch dark of early morning (looking for clean boxers) the piercing shriek of "DA-DA-DA-DA-DA!!!" coming from the warm bed he just left just melts his heart.

I suppose I could be a little miffed. You often refuse to go back to sleep afterward. And I imagine if you had the use of more than a few words and a steady stream of LOUD babble sounds you'd be extolling the virtues of your father to anyone who'd listen.

I don't feel betrayed.

I don't even take offense that it was once me who was the sole recipient of your immature love; that your first word was mamamamamamama! And now you've figured out that Dad is "DADA" and I've been demoted to "DUM."

I'm not bitter.

You know that we all love your feisty ways.

Even your sister, the one for whom you now vie for our affection against, isn't immune to your persuasive charms.

Oh sure, she picks you up around the middle and hauls you away from the electronic equipment you are intent on reprogramming with the bashing of your little fists. But she smiles when she deposits you at my feet; complaining that you are "wrecking everything."

Just know that when we take away the pencils and the pens and the toys with small parts; when we remove the dog's water bowl or change your soggy diaper, it's not to make you unhappy. We don't enjoy torturing you.

We want you to have a long and wonderful life -- with both of your eyes (especially that squinty one).

Love and quiet whispers,

Mama (aka Dum)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Free Speech

free speech

Of course Free Speech isn't actually free ... $60 at Zazzle

Thursday, September 11, 2008


finding her name, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Dear Annabel,

It was two years ago today that you went to preschool for the first time. You were excited and scared. I was excited and scared.

Your life was forever changed with all of the possibilities.

Seven years ago today our lives changed, too. This date became a black spot on the calendar; a day of grief. Not many would arguably say the changes were for the better. Not many would say the broken places made us stronger.

Some people look sadly on where we've gone since that terrible day; others look forward with hope. I seem to be a traveler without a territory between those two camps.

I wrote to you, Annabel, on the day you went to school for the first time two years ago, and I explained my hopes for you as you embark on figuring out the sometimes sad facts of life.

And though you and I have both grown since that wonderful, frightful day, each word of my wish for you is the same:

Look both ways, but cross the street.



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lather, rinse, repeat

whadyamean bath?, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

"I can still smell the tomato sauce in his hair."

"Well, it wasn't me who bought tomato scented shampoo."

"No, you just cooked and served it."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

How's this for too much information?

crummy but yummy, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Would anyone like some milk to go with those cookies?

I mean, seriously?

I'm like a micro dairy ... or something.

Monday, September 08, 2008

From preschool to premed in no time

My girl, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

She wants to be a veterinarian.

Not a photographer.

That's what she told me in the car that morning as we drove her brother to the babysitter's house. We had a new routine wherein she doesn't stay with the sitter but rather goes along with me a few miles further to her preschool, and she was getting used to that as well.

“Tell me again, mama. … Am I going to the four-year class or the five-year class?”

It would be third first day of preschool. She is four going on 24.

She’s got her life planned out already.

Instead of using the word veterinarian, however, she called it a "doctor for animals."

Who can blame her: Veterinarian is hard to pronounce.

She wants to be a doctor who waits tables and makes pies. She wants to help babies and animals that are hurt and in need of sweets. Suffice it to say she wants to help cats who are sick.

But she's going to need assistance, she explains. She's not sure if she can fix an animal that has had its foot cut off, an affliction she's sure will be commonplace in her practice.

She's not sure if there will be "antibotices" when she grows up, either. I tell her she's quite an astute little girl, especially given the up-tick in antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

She takes umbrage, and accuses me of calling her stupid.

I tell her astute implies the opposite; that her observations are shrewd.

She's not swayed by my backtracking, but she's excited nevertheless to be going back to the Marilla Cuthbert Academy for Unspeakably Charming Children, where she's been attending classes since the tender age of two.

We are early. She's agreed to let me take her picture.

I'm not sure why, since her face takes on its usual surley expression as I lift my camera. A neighbor with an infant sees us and calls over to me, asking if I'd like her to take a picture of the two of us.

I hand her my camera and explain she only has to make sure it's in focus; the rest is already to go.

She clicks the shutter and looks at the display.

Appologizing that she didn't get us centered in the frame.

"It's a cute picture, though."

Annabel tells her not to worry about it, that she's done fine.

"Whenever I take pictures of mommy I accidentally cut her head off."

Friday, September 05, 2008

Why I married him

generations V, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

My mind is a minefield of dark thoughts skipping randomly around the mundane facts of the day.

Wake. Shower. Dress. Breakfast. Packing lunches. Rounding up the kids and all the detritis we think we need for the next 10 hours. Dumping it all in the car, which needs to be cleaned. Drive. Drop. Drive. Work. Drive. More cajolling, this time dinner and baths and teeth brushing. To bed. Dragging heels. Three books, no waiting. No time for lolligaging and dilly-dallying.

No patience, either.

There is always crying. Always something that hurts somebody's feelings. There is always one more thing I could do even after I've said THIS IS THE LAST TIME I'M ...

That's been the bare bones of my day every weekday since I can remember.

The heaviness of the world around me; not necessarily MY experience but still MY WORLD weighs on me. Sadness seems everywhere. Hope clings to it all, even still.

My thoughts linger on horrible things I never want to face. I can't turn away. I can't shut them off. Instead I shut myself down for a while.

Worry. Worry. Worry. I can't talk about something that may never happen. I can only worry.


And wake. Shower. Dress. Breakfast. Packing lunches. Rounding up the kids and all the detritis we think we need for the next 10 hours. Dumping it all in the car, which needs to be cleaned. Drive. Drop. Drive. Work. Drive. More cajolling, this time dinner and baths and teeth brushing. To bed. Dragging heels. Three books, no waiting. No time for lolligaging and dilly-dallying.

Truth is, I've always been this way. I've always felt my heart race and stop. I've always held my breath, squeezed my eyes shut and closed my hands over my ears, hoping to shut out the world.

There's so much misery in it; so much to fear and fret.

I eat in silence; the kids, already finished, are tearing through the house making joyful noise. I wish I could join in. I can't even muster a smile.

Across from me he sits in quiet, too.

Looking at the kids. At me.

He reaches his hand over and covers mine; "I just wanted you to know I am happy, and that I love you."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Family matters

Been thinking a lot about family and life and how nobody can know what the future holds.

We can scratch plans down in our daybooks; section off blocks of time to do things .... take vacations and travel around. But we can't ever really know what's lurking around the corner. Good or bad, it all can change the path we take.

People always tell us to "live in the moment," or "take it one day at a time," or "cross that bridge when you come to it." They say "change is good." But having something to lose makes the possibilty of really losing it all the more terrifying. The unknown is fright filled.

I know the fear all too well. I've choreographed an entire "blog" to dance around it.

But I take a deep breath, and the moment of anxiety passes.

I take the picture and I grant myself some solace. The only thing we have is right now; yesterday is over and tomorrow is a mystery.

Just breathe.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sensitive we are

Mama: (Expressing surprise at her selection of a dog when she won a midway game at the fair) "Hey? I thought you didn't like dogs?"

Annabel: "Well, pretend ones that look sad I do."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Summer's end

It was getting dark. Silas was asleep in his car seat before we pulled out of our grassy parking space. He was filled to the brim with the confusion of sights and sounds, not to mention the frozen fruits of the Dairy Bar. Annabel was clutching her hard-won prizes from the midway. (Hard-won in part because her parents were't so sure they wanted to let her try and win them.) She was spinning from fistfulls of spun sugar and frenzied carnival rides

The county fair has come and gone. Summer is over.

But it surely went out with a bang.

We traveled to visit some friends in western New York over the weekend, stayed overnight in a hotel with a pool, and sprinted back just in time to meet up with another dear friend and go to the fair.

Soon will be "back to school" time for one little miss.

It's hard to believe that in no time we will be wearing sweaters and coats and pulling on boots and hats. We will get the snow shovels and ice scrapers out of their summer storage spaces. We will turn up the thermostat and start wearing socks around the house.

Summer will be just a warm memory.

And then, soon enough, its arrival will be anticipated once again.