30 August 2011
One of the good things about having children is that you can manipulate them into doing things that make you laugh. Things that may or may not be appropriate - and definitely way over their heads. That's why it's funny! Carrying, bearing and raising children is really hard so I think it's ok to laugh at them. It's really the very least they can do in return. Or, as a tight-ass roommate of mine used to sign her notes of complaint, "it's the very least.......".
On the day pictured above, Liam needed long underwear......but his were in the laundry. So I gave him a pair of my own black tights to wear instead.
He comes prancing out wearing nothing but his fancy black tights, his legs long and bony and his tiny buttocks (must say "butt-ox") like the crack side of a Georgia peach. He looks like a gay golem.
I look at Mike and whisper, "jazz hands."
And here's how it goes:
"Liam - can you hold your hands like this? With the fingers all outstretched? Ok - hold them at your sides like this. Now wiggle them a little bit. Yeah! Like they're sparkling! Now do this......step, kick, step, kick, step, kick, keep sparkling your fingers! Now stand there and bop your hip out to the side. Yeah.....hip, hip, hip, hip. Keep sparkling with your jazz hands!"
We end the show by teaching him to strike a pose, hold it, and breathe really hard. Keep smiling! Don't move! You have to breathe so hard that your chest heaves up and down! Now raise that jazz hand in the air and...........SPARKLE!!!
24 August 2011
I have moments when I forget that I've moved across the country. Sometimes, when I'm not fully present, I get disoriented for an instant and I can't figure out where I am. Especially at places like Target. The surroundings are familiar - the same layout in every store in America - and I stop and think, "Wait. Am I at the Edina store or St. Louis Park store?" Two stores that don't exist in New Hampshire. In fact, New Hampshire just got it's first Target 2 years ago - a fact that was hidden from me or surely I would have reconsidered the whole move. Going into Target is like going into a time warp or stepping into another dimension; I could be anywhere. How am I supposed to know?
And then I hear a loud, nasal voice on its way to the parking lot say, "GAWD I HATE THIS STOOPID CAHT!" And I'm shaken back into reality. My mind tumbles at warp speed into the here and now.
It's always someone's voice that shakes me into reality. That foreign-sounding patois that indicates a location on the map. Sometimes it's a cashier that wakes me up: "That'll be twelve-oh-foah, please. Do you have a quawtah?" I often say out loud, "oh yeah" - not to the amount but to the fact that I now live on the east coast.
16 August 2011
I recently had a dream. I was carrying a pint of fresh blueberries and accidentally tripped. They spilled to the floor and scattered - and Liam dropped to his knees and scrambled to pick them up and shove them in his mouth one by one. Reaching and shoving as fast as he could.
And I stood there and watched in amazement. It was like observing my own happiness. Who knew that watching my kid eat blueberries would top my Christmas list?
Liam is a "picky eater" - a term we're trying not to use so he doesn't label himself and descend into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The act of eating does not interest him as it takes up precious play time. And it has always been so. As a baby he never nursed longer than 5 minutes; I considered remaining topless all day so I wouldn't miss my window by fumbling with shirts and such. He survived on mere tablespoons of mush a day. I used to sit in front of his highchair and think "Oh please please please one more spoonful. That would make 4. Come on 4!" But there was always something more interesting going on elsewhere.
This year, he ate cheddar bunnies for Christmas dinner.
And since the move, the issue has increased ten fold (along with a fear of cats and dogs. Mostly brought on by an oversized male cat named Cuteness who hisses at children who try to play on his rainbow play system). Since the move, he doesn't even eat the few items that previously made up his small repertoire. Not even ketchup. It's as confusing to him as it is to us. To keep him from perishing in the hallways of his school, I allow him to choose what foods go into his lunch. And the lunchbox still comes home full - sometimes completely untouched. When I ask him why, he gets remorseful and says "I don't know. I just didn't want it."
At this point, we have only one for-sure food item.........and it's a heinous one. He calls it "Floppy Cheese" and he found it at Grandma's house. In grocery store terms, it's Kraft American Singles. I've explained to him that this really isn't cheese - which is why they call it "cheese food." But he doesn't care, he thinks it's the ultimate delicacy. He once unwrapped and ate an entire package - that's 16 slices - not knowing that they weren't intended to be eaten like a bag of chips.
At what point do you give in and give him the only food he'll eat even though it's not real food and it's sure to cause a world of constipation?
At the store recently, I confided in the woman behind the deli counter. "Help me find a food with the taste and consistency of floppy cheese but it's real food." We sampled a variety of actual cheeses, analyzed them for taste, color and texture. We landed on a mild Monterey Jack. Then we sliced it paper thin - I held it up to the light, shook it slightly to see how it "flopped." Cheese slicer woman held it up to the light, too, and weighed in with her opinion.
When Liam came home, I told him I had made an amazing discovery: there were giant blocks of floppy cheese at the deli counter that were the size of car batteries! Where we could order as many slices as we wanted without being limited by the size of the package!
And he was excited! Let's have some! I crossed my fingers and worked hard to hide my anxiety as he took his first oh so discriminating bite............
"Hey! This is the cheese from Jimmy John's!"
He catches me off guard.....don't blow it! "Yes! Yes, it is! This is the cheese from Jimmy John's!"
Oh thank you cheese gods! oh thank you cheese slicer woman for shaking the cheese with me! he will not die of starvation today!
08 August 2011
In the heat of summer and the frigidity of winter, a girl needs some special friends. Today is the epitome of "it's not the heat, it's the humidity." It's only 77 degrees but the heat index is around 910. I walk outside and immediately pit out my shirt. My hair looks like the fuzzy side of velcro; like I took a lighter to the ends just for fun. I pull it all up into a bird's nest on top of my head because that is all that can be done.
Conversely, in the winter, it snowed. A lot. It was gray and the wind was cold and the last thing I wanted to do was get out of my car and pump gas. But in real life, we all have to get out of our cars and pump gas in shitty weather.
Just like my Photo Acclimation Project here in New England, I have a list of things that I miss about Minneapolis. I took photos of everything, big and small, and ended up with an expose of our life there. If you dig deep and acknowledge the little things that make you happy, you will be able to see what your life is made of. And so......
One of those things is the Sinclair gas station at the corner of 70th and France in Edina. Look for the sign that says "Full Serve / Same Price." I repeat, FULL SERVE / SAME PRICE! I think most people drive by it, or worse, go to the gas station across the street which is not Full Serve / Same Price but Pump Your Own Damn Gas, Lazy Ass / Same Price.
I could always find an errand to run in Edina when my tank was running low so I could gift myself this tiny luxury.
And do you see that smiling face in the picture above? Those people were so FREAKIN' happy to help me that I always left in a great mood. Like "See, the world IS a good and happy place! Hee hee!" So don't let anyone tell you that you can't change the world if you end up pumping gas for a living.
On rainy days, or below zero days, or hotter than hades days, I actually looked forward to getting gas so I could relish the experience of not pumping gas. Ever grateful to the happy gas gnomes. At Christmas, I'd bring them cookies or give them a fiver to say thank you for a year of not pumping gas. You'd be amazed at what a nice gift that can be to yourself.
Fast forward to New Hampshire, where not only do I pump my own gas on hotter than hades days and cold wind-whipping days, but..............you know that clicky thing that you stick in the notch on the handle of the pump? The thing that holds the handle in the "on" position so you can let go, loosen your vice grip on the pump and relax? Maybe even get back in your car on the nastiest of days? Yeah, we don't have those. It's as if they removed the notches on purpose so we can't be lazy. You can actually see the screwholes where the notch panel used to be! Seriously!
Even the gas pumps are testing my worth; does she possess the hand strength to hold the pump unassisted while filling the tank of an oversized off-road vehicle? The tenacity to stand outside in cold, wind, rain or fire-y heat holding the pump firmly until the task is complete? Will she jump through these manufactured hoops to win our acceptance? Does she have the work ethic of a New Englander? Or will she give up?
Funny how things can make you miss home.
So, if you're tank is running low, and you live in the greater Twin Cities area, take a detour and say hello to my smiley friends at the Sinclair station at 70th and France. And bask in the loveliness that is Full Serve / Same Price. Consider it a gift to yourself.
04 August 2011
Signs are an important indicator of where you are. I've always loved this sign; it's so not-the-Hamptons. So on the verge of trash-to-treasure. Driving by in the winter, it's a reminder of what is to come and what has clearly been for a very long time. The sign is surely from the 70's........... when hippies in string bikinis came in for their Tab. Maybe some Rondo. Today you can buy Pringles and soda and buckets and shovels and boogie boards and expired sunscreen and wet suits.
Thanks to the Photo Acclimation Project, I finally pulled over for the sole purpose of snapping this picture. This was an icon of my surroundings. And I needed a record of it.
And the next day, the VERY NEXT DAY, the sign is gone. Replaced by a new sign that is more updated, more corporate, more attractive and yet .........more nondescript. I haven't been inside so I don't know if it's just a sign change or a complete revamping. But I do know that I'm jonesing for a Rondo.
03 August 2011
The beach is the crown jewel of this massive re-location experiment. It is the thing that beckons when things aren't exactly as we'd like them to be. It is the thing that gives this place a flavor and a personality. In a good way. A happy way.
And summer is when this place comes alive with salt and sand and an aesthetic that's....well......salty and sandy. But also bright and sunny and blue sky and sparkles on the water. I'm so tan right now that I'm actually trying to scrub it off with a loofa for fear of looking like a 70 year old, beach combing smoker. When have you ever tried to get rid of your tan? I swear, I've been to Mexico, Florida and the Caribbean and never turned darker than medium beige; but in New Hampshire, I turn caramel colored in just 2 afternoons at the beach. Why is the sun so strong here? I'm starting to think that it's nothing more than a fabulously successful PR campaign that sends us all to Florida for the sunshine.
So here is where the blog posts start to take on a sunnier outlook (pun intended).
But you have stay on top of it - get out the door and enjoy it every day, make it part of your daily existence - or life gets in the way. A one way ticket to I-Could-Be-Anywhere, USA. I've said it before and I'll say it again, how you spend your days is how you spend your life.
So you'll excuse me if I make it a short one today; I have to stop at the beach on my way to........just about everywhere.
I know that it's August.
But with a too long school year hampered by gratuitous snow days, 2 weeks of European travel, and 2 weeks of day camp, I feel like the lazy days of summer fell at my feet just days ago.
And I'm panicking.
Summer is good, right? And you want your child to have the freedom to run around with friends and jump from one activity to the next on a whim. But what if all the friends are in camp every day? Or tennis? Or soccer? Or Manga cartooning? Then what happens to our summer?
Summer vacation scares me.........because the fantasy and the reality are often miles apart. And the fallout is a bored kid who watches TV all day. And a frantic mom who tries to squeeze in emails while feeling guilty about her child watching TV all day. I had enough trouble getting things done when he was in school for 6 hours every day; this summer scenario could be like a throwback to the days of "frantic nap syndrome" - an ailment I named in honor of the manic typing that ensues, faster and faster and faster, when you expect to hear a baby crying any minute. But instead of a crying baby, I'll have this:
"Mom! Can I have a cookie?"
"No. You just had breakfast. If you can wait for me to finish this, I'll play a game with you."
(2 minutes later)
"Mom! Mom! Can we go to Subway for lunch?"
"I'm not thinking about lunch right now. I just need to get this done and then I'll play a game with you."
(2 minutes later)
"Mom! Will you play a game with me?"
"I told you I'd play a game with you when I finish this. If you could leave me alone for more than 2 minutes, then I could get it done. And then I'll play a game with you."
(3 minutes later)
"Mom! Has it been more than 2 minutes?"
So I asked Liam what he wanted his summer to look like. And this is what he said:
2. A lot of sleepovers.
3. A lot of playing outside.
4. And a new bike.
I asked if there were any sports he would like to play. "Yes," he said. "Kickball."
I asked if there were any classes he would like to take. "Yes," he said. "Kickball. When is kickball season?"
Why can't he like soccer like every other kid in America? I could find him a soccer club just by closing my eyes and intuiting where to drive. You watch, he'll be the one starting a kickball league in his dorm. They'll play at midnight with balls stolen from the gym closet.
So I try something different. Let's approach this like co-workers. Let's work together.
"Liam.......I have 4 things I need to do today. I need to 1) send an invoice, 2) do a blog post, 3) work on an article for a website, and 4) exercise. What do you need to do today?"
He says he needs to 1) ride his bike, 2) ride his scooter, 3) play baseball and 4) watch TV.
I agree to give him $3.50 to wash the car, thinking that I'm buying more time (literally). But he says, "Maybe you could do some stretches on the driveway while I wash the car for $3.50. That could be your exercise."
Sadly, that may actually be my exercise for the summer. Doing stretches on the driveway. Either way, we agree that after I have finished my list, we can have a free day and do what we want. I get set up in my office while he gets ready to go outside. I hear him leave. I hear him come back. I hear him leave again. I hear him come back. I hear him leave again. And then he comes back. He comes into my office and says "I biked, I scootered, I played baseball. Now I have to watch TV."
On a day when I should be rejoicing in the freedom of it all, I'm wracked with "how is this going to work?"