Sunday, April 29, 2007

Cowboys, wild, West.

The boys received a great gift in the mail from their friends in California -- a cassette of original songs and some friendly chat from Jack & Sam. One of these songs really caught on and the boys are still singing it, and it goes a little somethin' like this:

Cowboy, cowboy, you like to ride your horse;
Cowboy, cowboy, you like to shoot your horse.

There's another song that is a loving ode to the chocolate chip cookie, but the horse song really made an impression. It was fun for them to hang outside in the breezy sunshine and listen to a tape made especially for them, after their grueling flu battle.

Hands-down, my favorite board game is Scrabble, and I'm thrilled that Wyatt is now old enough to read and spell. He and I decided to play a game of Junior Scrabble, and I asked him to set up the board while I finished some task in the other room. Wyatt's got a terrific sense of humor, and this was his response:

Note to self: no more State of the Union addresses for Wyatt.

Troy returned home Friday after his road trip through the West. He had a great time visiting his brother and friends as he made his way along up the coast. He brought me this cute pair of pajamas from the wonderful Watson Kennedy store in Seattle:

But as happy as I was, Lucky was even happier with his gift. A redwood log from the beach in Mendocino:

It was definitely hard to be on my own with the boys. There's normally a lot of work, and at least when Troy and I are together we provide each other with back-up. But it was good, in a way, because Troy does so much around here, and it's not that I take him for granted -- I don't -- but I definitely rely on him a lot, and I especially did in my zombie-like state after my Mom's death. Not exactly Seligman's learned helplessness, but I've stood in the shadows during my mourning, and so it was good to shake that up and be forced to rise to all challenges on my own -- you know, not just the daily chores but the kinks that cropped up that required active problem-solving. But that's enough now and I'm damned glad he's home. I'm also grateful for the very thoughtful support I received from friends during his absence -- very encouraging and sweet!
And so, life is returning to normal here, and boy am I grateful to have, after three weeks, a proper cappuccino from my favorite barista.

Welcome home, Troy!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sea-Monkeys, Schmea-Monkeys.

Well, I'm glad I never sent in $1.25 + postage of my hard-earned paper route money to buy these back in the day.
We've been watching and waiting, and unless the sea monkeys are invisible, they're not there.
I emptied their would-be gaudy metropolis today and I'm going to stick to the fantasy.
I can't really blame them for not inhabiting the tank, because it was really ugly.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Somewhere, beyond the sea

For me, one of the benefits of having kids is the opportunity for a re-do on childhood. If I missed out on certain activities or opportunities, I can try again, with my boys. The downside of this concept would be if a parent were to become slightly stage-motherish and order a child to take the language and music lessons she never had (guilty!). But the upside -- and I'd like to think it's beneficial to all parties involved -- is that you sometimes get to do fun, really childish (childlike?) stuff. Like raise sea monkeys.
When I was a kid, I read comic books, and every one of them had ads for cool things like x-ray glasses and sea monkeys. For whatever reason, I never got either. But I spent a good amount of time looking at the ad and thinking about them.

A little miniature underwater world. With royalty, apparently.
The boys got a sea monkey kit for Christmas, and we finally decided it was time to get to it. The sea monkeys of the new millenium have gone metropolitan. Their jarringly colorful world contains fake cars and gold high-rise buildings. Not quite a nautical paradise, but it came with the kit.
All you have to do is pour clean water into the "tank," stir in a purifying powder, let it sit for 24 hours, and then aerate the water by pouring it back and forth from the tank to another vessel a few times to force some oxygen into the water.

Then you add the sea monkey eggs, which we did. So far we do not see anything. The tank had magnification spots and even when we peer into them, we only see some black dots.

Well, I guess this might take a little time, so I'm waiting for our little creatures. I mean we are waiting -- the boys and I. If we can successfully raise a tiny principality, we'll be very tempted to order the x-ray glasses.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

She was here

A baby girl was born, with fine blonde hair and fair skin. She had blue eyes, and was the fourth daughter.
She was a happy child, despite not having much. Growing up in the shadow of the end of the war, she would suffer malnutrition, and be sent off to a country village, away from her family, so that she could survive.
Her mother would tell her she was a mistake, but she had a kindly grandmother who loved her very much.
On one particular Christmas, she and her sisters would feel grateful for each receiving an orange, because the other children they knew had received apples.
She did well in school, and had a talent for sewing and embroidery that would serve her well later in life, because she could work as a respected seamstress.
In her late teens, she fell in love with an American G.I. and was disowned by her German parents, so she eloped and never looked back. On the evening she left her hometown, her eldest sister met her at the train station with a heavy coat.
"Take this," she said, crying. "I hear it gets cold in America."
She was taken into her new husband's family with love and acceptance, and she had two daughters.
She worked as a housekeeper, a seamstress, and eventually as a translator.
Every day of her life, she had dinner on the table at 5:30 p.m. She canned fruit and vegetables, made pickles, hot sauce, and was an excellent home cook. She made the best chicken schnitzel in the world. Friends and strangers were always welcome at her table, and her house was spotless. She sewed clothing for her daughters, and tiny outfits, with tiny snaps, for their Barbie dolls.
She had an easy smile and never judged, but when double-crossed, she held a grudge. But her nature was cheerful and upbeat, and she liked to laugh and have fun.
Widowed at the age of 43, she would start over again and again, experiencing 12 very happy years with her second husband. He was a Greek who loved her like no one ever had before, and he brought life back into her eyes. But he always said that it was she who had saved him, because she brought him so much happiness and fixed him when he was broken.
She drove a Jeep Cherokee.
She let her grandsons eat vanilla pudding for breakfast.
She was unpretentious and warm-hearted.
She liked Jimmy Buffet and margaritas.
She was practical and smart, and very generous.
Her favorite artist was Vincent Van Gogh.
She loved French fries. Specifically, McDonald's French fries.
Her son-in-law was one of her best friends.
She loved Provence. And "A Year in Provence." She was a fast reader.
She gave me a robot vacuum for my 40th birthday and I was kind of disappointed and mad at her, until I realized that it was one of the best presents that anyone could give a busy mother of four. I was so stupid.
Houses. Gardens. Roses. Travels. Dancing. Holidays. Snowstorms. Apple trees. Fairytales. Tragedies. Fortitude. And love. Lots and lots of love.
She was my Mom, and I miss her. I miss her every day, and a little more today because April 12th was her birthday.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Something wicked this way stays.

We are officially well into Day 7 of our flu extravaganza -- and with two sickies in diapers, let me tell you, it is an extravaganza. Even the dog has thrown up.
As the mother of four boys, I consider myself somewhat hardened, and I really thought I'd seen it all. But in the span of five minutes today, I witnessed something horrific -- more than any one person should have to see. I may seek counseling.
Harry hurled up a peanut butter & jam sandwich, which, I know I shouldn't have given to him but he requested it and he's been sick for so many days I was worried, so I caved in and let him eat it despite my reservations. He threw up, and then, after I removed his clothing and blankets and some strategically placed towels, I ran upstairs to throw everything in the washer (sterilize! sterilize!) only to find Cooper waking up from his nap with THE MOST DISGUSTING DIAPER LOAD EVER. Ever.
I shudder to think of it, and can only say that I felt like Aunt Ada Doom in Cold Comfort Farm -- traumatized. I held my breath and cleaned up, threw Cooper's blankets in with the rest of the wash, and stumbled, dazed, back downstairs to report that "I saw something nasty in the nursery!!"
My stamina is waning, I'm ready to burn sage throughout the house, and yesterday I started to sound like Nurse Ratched, remarking coldly to my 3-year-old, "Try to hit the towel."
Since it's Easter weekend, I'm wondering if the local church might possess an extra store of holy water, and, if so, could it be administered by a non-Catholic? Nevermind, if this keeps up for much longer, I may need to call in the Greeks, they're like the Navy Seals of the religious world to me. Exorcism for the children, blessing of the house, ouzo for me, all in one fell swoop.
That's right, that's right -- stay over there by the tub, Damien.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cappuccino art III

It's an aerial view of Venice! It's a sign! I must move there. My coffee is trying to tell me something.
Yes -- did you know that, from the air, Venice looks like a fish? It does.

And yet, how could I leave here?
This wild land of forward-thinking hipness, where even interior design is edgy and creative.
Take this fabulous Al Pacino-as-Tony Montana-in-Scarface rug I spotted on the street last week, for example:

I don't recall seeing anything like that in Venice.
I have some serious thinking to do over my cappuccino.