Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Are You Looking for Something To Do In Manhattan?

This Sunday?

Around 1:00?

What not go see THIS PLAY?

I totally pimp for old friends.

Here's the thing - one of the members of my college theater troupe wrote this play for a series of student written one acts, back in, let's say, 1992. Ish. Maybe it was '93.

I was in the original cast. (I wish I could dig up an old photo.)

Anyway, he's re-worked it, and it's been in production the last week or so, and the last showing is this Sunday, at 1:00 PM. So, if you're looking for something to do in Manhattan this Sunday (sadly, I am VERY VERY far away or I would so be there), go. See some theater.

And then come back and tell me I must have been brilliant in it, fifteen years ago, right?


Friday, July 25, 2008

the heart has no bones, you say, so it won’t break, but the purpose of loving is the pounding it takes*

Lana has had a rough time of it the past week. (And consequently, we have had a rough time in what was already a rough week, considering the situation with J~.)

There have been two significant tantrums, and some smaller fits.

When I say “tantrum”, I’m not quite sure if this fully describes her behavior. When she is in the midst of one of these episodes, she is screaming and kicking (although, admittedly, she does not kick at PEOPLE. She will kick the floor, but, she doesn’t kick people. She also doesn’t bite, which I have read about other children doing during this kind of thing, so, thank God for small favors). Her body becomes very, very rigid, she curls in on herself, and eventually will begin to hyperventilate, at which point whatever she has been crying/screaming about becomes, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” or sometimes, ‘I need Daddy, I can’t breathe, I need Daddy, I can’t breathe.”

She has not, ever, called for me during one of these episodes. Her anger may be directed (and in fact often IS directed) at Husband, because he is the one who has punished her by denying her something she wants or sending her to her room, but, he is the one she wants to come to her when she is upset like that.

This is unfortunate because I am much more capable of sitting next to her and waiting for her rage to pass than Husband is. (I am not good at having the rage directed AT me, but, I will sit quietly next to her and wait.) I employed this “sit quietly and try to hold child” method on the rare occasions in Gabe’s toddler hood that he would throw an epic tantrum. Even now, if Gabriel is angry (Lana being the person most likely to make him angry), if I follow him to his room and rub his back and talk to him quietly, he can be brought back from his anger fairly quickly.

This technique does NOT work with my daughter. When I try it, she curls further into herself, becomes more upset, and chants, “please leave, please leave, please leave, leave leave leave leave leave” until I worry she will start with the hyperventilating, so, I leave.

At a certain point her raging becomes something…else, something sadder and less angry, more woeful, I guess. At that point, if Husband goes near her, rather than kicking the floor and screeching at him, she will fling herself at him and cling to him, and he tells her “breathe, breathe” and then she desperately needs affection from him.

The extremely unfortunate part about these tantrums in the past week is that they have been witnessed by Keiko, who is an exchange teacher from Japan who is staying with us for 3 weeks.

(I actually wonder if the presence of Keiko in our house, and the disruption of her routine, may be responsible for her heightened tantrums this week. She was quiet and clingy at the airport when we went to get Keiko, and she overheard someone ask Keiko if she (Lana) was her (Keiko’s) daughter, which prompted Lana to climb up my body and into my arms (not necessarily odd behavior, but, the timing seemed telling.)

Keiko is far too polite to comment on the tantrums, but, I have to think she found the behavior disturbing to witness.

After the second tantrum this week, I took Lana into my bedroom to read some books and to cuddle in our big bed. We read about four books and then we were just lying there, and I was rubbing at my ear.

“Why you rub your ear?” Lana asked.

“Because it hurts right now,” I said.

“Maybe you gotta go see the doctor?” she inquired.

“Maybe.” I said. (I think it is just sinuses, but, it’s been hurting for about a week, so, maybe I should go.)

Lana suddenly says, “I don’t never wanna get another shot from the doctor.”

“Sometimes you have to get a shot at the doctor, to keep you healthy.” (I think she might actually need one more shot this summer before she starts kindergarten, so, this conversation is making me nervous.)

“I no like shots. I cry,” she says.

“They hurt, but, sometimes you have to have one to stay healthy. Daddy had to have a lot of shots when he was so sick last month.”

“Babies get lots of shots,” she comments.

“Yes, I guess they do.” I say, wondering where she is going with this.

“Who went with me? Who went with me to get my shots when I was baby?” she asks.

“Um…” I say.

“You go with me, when I was baby, I cried for shots?” she asks.

“No, honey. I think, maybe the mom you had before me, your mommy before me, maybe she went with you.”

She is lying with her back to me, her tiny backside curled against my stomach, the back of her head nestled against my throat. She says nothing for a few minutes.

“I had two moms, before. One of them was hooker.”

“What???” I say, too loudly.

“No, no, that’s wrong….” She corrects herself, “One of them was COOKER. She was all the time cooking. She was COOKER.”
(I try very hard not to laugh at this point. She certainly wouldn’t understand the humor in her alphabetical mistake.)

“You had two moms and one of them cooked all the time?” I ask.

“Yeah, one of them was cooker,” she repeats, as if I am not getting her point.

I wonder if she thinking of her foster grandmother, who, in the four photographs we have of her, is wearing an apron. Maybe she cooked a lot?

Lana rolls over to face me, and wraps her arms around me very tightly.

“I give you a squishy hug, mama,” she says. “I love you very, very,” (on her fingers she carefully counts “very” 10 times) “much,” she finishes.

“And I love you very, very” (and I use her fingers to count “very” 10 times) “much, too.”

I’m just relieved to know that she knows I love her, and that, of her life before, she remembers someone who came with her when she had to get her shots, and someone else, who was a COOKER, and not a HOOKER.

Some days I feel like mothering this child takes me from the depths of despair and frustration to the heights of hilarity. It’s quite a roller coaster, but, I think the high points are outweighing the low ones.


* Josh Ritter, You Don't Make it Easy, Babe (the song is the background to this video on YouTube. I did not make the video, not sure what it's about, the point to the link is the music.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

We really intended to buy a Prius...

But, when Husband's car found itself on it's last legs rather more quickly than we had anticipated, and we learned that the wait for a Prius in our area had extended to five months...we found ourselves driving away from the Toyota lot today in this:

And yes, it really is metallic gold.

But, people it was THERE and available TODAY. And it was FUNKY. And IRREVERENT. And it has LOTS OF INTERIOR SPACE. And the CLUTCH IS VERY EASY and DOESN'T STICK. And it gets decent gas mileage.

So, there it is. Our gold metallic limited edition Toyota Scion.

I'm pretty sure we will never lose it in a parking lot.


New Photos

My Girlfriend H~ can work wonders with a camera. Here are some photos she took of Gabe and Lana the other day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What you never knew you needed...

If you take a good look at this photo, you will see that it is composed of Husband, Gabriel, Lana, and a mannequin, standing in front of a store in Seattle.

Are you looking at the photo closely?

Yes, the mannequin is wearing a kilt and the store is called Utilikilts.

Yes, I'm totally serious. It's a real store. Full of kilts. With pockets.

It seems that the reason more men don't wear kilts is because...um...kilts don't traditionally have pockets?

But, now, with a Utilikilt, men can wear a kilt AND carry a hammer around at the same time?

Well, okay, I can see a small point here: skirts, generally speaking, don't have pockets. And THAT might be why women carry purses. I think that there is an unexplored chicken-and-egg argument to be made here. (If skirts had pockets, would women carry purses? Or is it because women carry purses that skirts don't have pockets?)

Anyhoo, the Utilikit would seem to solve the 'men don't carry purses'/skirt/pocket problem, and make un-bifurcated pants (which, when you think about it, is a SKIRT), available to all...with pockets.

I'm pretty sure any man wearing a utilikilt would be shot on sight in my not-so-forward thinking town. (I do live in a city where a man was SHOT IN THE FACE recently while riding his bicycle to work to save on gas), but, if you're living in a more progressive part of the country, more power to the kilt-wearer in you.

(Incidentally, there is a FABULOUS toy store across the street from the Utilikit store called The Magic Mouse, and, if you are in Seattle to buy a kilt at Utilikilts, you should definitely check out The Magic Mouse as well.)


Avocado Bathroom

I think I have mentioned before that Husband and I are devoted fans of a sketch comedy show on BBC America. The show is called "That Mitchell and Webb Look" and it airs (oddly) at 9:20 on Friday evenings. (In the eastern time zone, that is.)

Anyway, on Friday night, we were watching, and it was a re-run, although we had not seen it before. They ran a sketch called "Avocado Bathroom". I'm not entirely sure why we found it so funny, but, I almost choked on the garlic stuffed olives I was eating. The premise is, a couple is shopping for a house on one of those "house finders" type of TV shows that they have on HGTV and the like. They are shooting a scene of the couple looking at a bathroom. It made me laugh ridiculously hard, so, I thought I would share it with you. (I am not the person who put the clip on YouTube, and I am not associated with BBC America or YouTube, etc. etc.)

That Mitchell and Webb Look, Avocado Bathroom

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Things My Children Have Accused Me Of Today

1. Forcing them to eat foods they hate.
Lawmommy pleads....not guilty. As hard as I try, I cannot "force" them to eat things. I keep putting various things in front of them, and pleading, and cajoling, and begging and bargaining, but, FORCING, per se...not so. It's not true! It's not like I'm prying their jaws open and sliding the food in! I swear. Despite the cajoling and bargaining, their diets are fairly limited to: fruit (all kinds), cheese (all kinds), milk, eggs, bread, noodles, plain chicken, plain pork, mac n' cheese, french fries, and broccoli. And tomatoes (for Lana) and cauliflower (for Gabe.)

2. Not being fair.
Lawmommy pleads..............not guilty. I try really, really hard to be fair. The fact remains that life isn't fair, but, I feel like I bend over backwards to make things fair. Today, they said it "wasn't fair" that I refused to buy popcorn when we went to see Wall*E. But, I didn't buy popcorn for ME, or THEM, so, it was FAIR. It just wasn't the outcome they wanted.

3. Eating all the cherry flavored skittles out of the dish of skittles in our kitchen.
Lawmommy pleads............well, GUILTY. Yes, I am totally guilty of that last one. It was me, I cannot lie. (Come on, the red ones are the BEST, everyone knows that.)


Friday, July 18, 2008

Lighter Notes (because this girl needs to laugh)

Our receptionist buzzes my office. There is a light giggle in her tone, odd for our office these past few days.

"Line one is for you," [snicker].

"Law Mommy," I say in my best, 'I am a professional ball-buster' voice.

"Hi Mama!" Lana squeals. "Is Lana!"

"Hi sweetheart," I say, surprised she is calling me, all by herself. "Are you okay? Where's daddy."

"Yeah, mom, I okay. Daddy just starting his run on treadmill. But, I need to cancel our appointment today." [This comes out sounding like "I neeta canshel ow appertnent tuhday" but, I know what she's trying to say." (She has a speech impediment, but her vocabulary is impressive.)

"You need to cancel our appointment?" I ask, incredulously.

"Yeah, I just gonna stay home and swim in the pool with Daddy and Gabe? Kay? So, cancel our appointment."

Evidently, I was suppose to pencil in a meeting with my five-year-old, but, she's cancelled it, due to the fact that she'd rather swim. Go figure. What impresses me most is that she was able to find the listing for "mom's office" in the call log of our phone, and dial it. She's a pretty savvy cookie, that one.


It's come to this. I am taking hula-hoop tips from an 8-year-old girl. My latest obsession is my new weighted hula-hoop, which I can now keep going for 3 and half minutes straight. (I find that the song "Animals" by Nickelback is particularly good for background hula-hoop music. The beat is just right, or something.) Anyway, Lexi, our 8 year old neighbor, is the reigning hula-hoop queen of the neighborhood. Two nights ago, she walked the entire rectangle around our pool, including stepping up on to the diving board and jumping down, while keeping her hula hoop in motion around her waist. And she did it without breaking a sweat and with barely appearing to move her tiny body. I was so fascinated I thought about taking notes.

It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Her advice is not particularly helpful, though. "I just do it," she answers, when I ask her how she is doing it. Kids.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

I feel as if I am looking at the world from the bottom of a well*

We walk on eggshells around eachother in the office.

The door to J~'s office is pulled, halfway closed. The lights aren't on in there.

His absence creeps across all of us like the disease that is trying to so hard to take him from us.

The four lawyers left here alternate between speaking in whispers to eachother, and freaking the f**k out in the privacy of our own offices, wondering what the hell is happening at the hospital 10 minutes away. Our doors are closed so much more than is normal. We are an office of sharers - our doors shut so that we can change a run in our hose, or meet with an upset client. Rarely do we shut eachother out. But, now....

He is the heart and soul of our small partnership. He is our moral compass. He is the only one who knows who owes us money, and how much. He is universally well-loved by each of us, by everyone, really, who knows him. Now his silly toys sit silently. His tiny remote control helicopter indefinitely grounded. Without his sense of humor animating them, they seem ridiculous. When he is here, they are hysterical.

I am his niece. The others pull me aside. "You have to keep it together. For Christ's sake, you have to keep it together. This is your obligation, to HIM, to J~, keep your shit together."

I nod, they hug me. Behind my closed office door I sink to the floor and cry into my knees.

My assistant takes files from my hand. "I will do this," she says, "and then this. Then you need to do that. Okay?" His assitant hands me things hesitantly, "Can you sign these? Can you answer this question? What should we do with x.y.z.?" I answer her, as best as I can. My voice doesn't sound right. How can I make decision for his clients? He is so much better at this than I am.

None of us can believe this is happening again.

He has slain this demon twice before. We are all holding our breaths, saying prayers of all shapes and sizes, that he will rise up triumphantly, again. That he will cut the head of this wretched, creeping killer, again, and raise it up triumphantly and throw it's corpse into the abyss. That he will lop off it's head, and that it will finally, finally stop stalking him.

Fuck cancer. FUCK cancer.

*Mike Doughty, Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well

Monday, July 14, 2008

An Open Letter to Idiot Radio DJs

Dear [Members of Idiotic and Annoying Radio Morning Show in Medium Sized Midwestern City],

I am not sure if you meant to come off as stupid, ignorant, mean, hurtful or spiteful this morning, when you said, "Well, Brad Pitt finally has a baby boy of his own, as Angelina Jolie gave birth to a set of twins, including the couple's first son of their own. The couple now has three adopted and three biological children."

However, it was rude, and hurtful, and I honestly wonder what you think he thinks of his other two sons?

Do you suppose that he thinks his other two sons are less than his own?

Do you, in your monumental ignorance, suppose that he loves them less than he loves he the baby boy who came to him this week?

I want to suggest to you, that it is possible, in fact likely, that his love for the two sons who came to him by way of adoption*, is in fact, no different from the love he has for the new, and peculiarly monikered, Knox.

I want to suggest to you that it is, in fact, not beyond the realm of possibility that he might even feel like his older boys MORE his "own" than this new baby (because he has been their daddy for quite a while now, and this new baby, well, is brand new, and they are just getting to know each other, and sometimes it takes a while, to feel connected to a new little baby in your life.)

I want to suggest to you, and I want you to hear me (though I know you won't), when I say that a child is not your "own" simply because it carries your DNA. I want to suggest to you that a child who is loved by you, who you hold and comfort and play with and laugh with, that a child who calls you "daddy" or "mommy" is your "own", not because of genetics, but because of love, and choices, and making a choice to love them, every day.

There are plenty of men who are genetically tied to children who they have not made their "own". It is offensive that you would choose to draw this obscene distinction about a man who chooses to love his children, all of them, regardless of how they came to him.

Brad Pitt doesn't need me to defend him. (Although, Brad, you know, if you're ever stuck for legal representation in the Midwest, feel free to call me.) But, I'm going to say this anyway, Radio DJ. What you said this morning was as idiotic and insensitive as the time you made fun of Sheryl Crow for "shaving her head". When she had cancer.

I know you probably don't think it's that serious. But it is. It makes you a douche-waffle.

Very truly yours,

*I really don't understand how Brad Pitt adopted the three children without being married to Jolie, or what happened to the parenting rights of Billy Bob Thornton, who was married to Jolie at the time of the first adoption. However, that is not the point of this rant. The point of this rant is that it is generally presented in the media that Pitt is the adoptive father of all three of Jolie's adopted children, and I am assuming that is true.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Oh bother...


We arrived home at 3:45 AM this morning, after arriving at the airport in Detroit at 1:00AM, waiting AN HOUR for the luggage carousel to finally start up, making our way to our long term parking, finding a nearly flat tire, finding an open gas station with an air pump, finding an open McDonalds because we were all starving since the airlines no longer feed anyone...we fell asleep at 4:00 AM.

I think the last time I fell asleep at 4:00 AM was 1993.

Anyway, we all woke up around noon, and dragged around for a while and then starting to unpack.

When we discovered that we had almost none of MY clothes, with the exception of my bathing suit, a yellow t-shirt, some red pants, and my Hello Kitty pajamas.

Yes, we left all of my other vacation clothes in Seattle.

And the hotel THINKS they have them, but, there is someone checked into our room and they cannot locate them, so, they cannot actually describe the clothes to me until they get the permission of the people who are currently checked into the room. Or something.

I just hope that the people staying in the room don't share my same plain-Jane Midwestern fashion sense and claim them as their own...

Seriously, I haven't got a pair of shorts that fits me at the moment. And it's 87 degrees right now. Also, the only pair of jeans that I own that I can describe as truly flattering and comfortable is among the missing.

And I cannot figure out, for the life of me, how we managed to not pack an entire drawer of clothes.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Random Thoughts about the Pacific Northwest and Family Vacation, in no particular order

1. Wow, it is beautiful in Washington and Oregon. Wow. Beautiful.

2. Why is it that EVERY PLACE we need to walk is UP a hill?

3. Sweet day in the morning, the traffic in Seattle is WRETCHED. Horrifying traffic. Seriously, how does anyone live here and not go postal from dealing with this traffic?

4. You can obtain pho and/or bubble tea almost anywhere in Seattle, which is awesome. And I can see how this would be considered a bonus for living here, but, it doesn't really entirely make up for the Nightmare of Traffic.

5. There is awesome music in Pacific Northwest. However, when you are traveling with young children on vacation, it is really just kind of depressing to know that you missed opportunity to see the Foo Fighters playing Portland and Pat Green playing Seattle in just two days time. (And yes I am aware that the Foo Fighters and Pat Green are musically dissimilar, but, I have maintained my musical schizophrenia from the beginning, so, just work with me in being depressed about not being able to see either one.) (I am also mildly sad that we missed Weird Al Yankovic who was playing near our house while we have been in Seattle, and I'm REALLY not sure what the says about me in light of the above. But, I kind of think of Weird Al as a comedian and not so much as a musician, because, come on, if nothing else, the man is FUNNY and he incorporates his humor with accordian music, and if that's not some kind of talent, I don't know what is.)

6. How is it possible that a city as progressive as Seattle has a limited public transportation system? Especially in light of the nightmare traffic situation.

7. Portland is a great city. Which is not to say that I don't think Seattle is great, but, I cannot really fathom LIVING in Seattle, but, Portland feels like a very livable city. It also has a public transportation system. (I am ALL ABOUT public transportation. At one point, I wanted to become a lobbyist for public transportation.) Additionally, Portland has a bookstore that takes up an ENTIRE CITY BLOCK. I could have spent an entire day in Powell's bookstore. Unfortunately, this is not an option when traveling with a 5 year old and an 8 year old.

8. Portland also has the lovely distinction of being home to both Nicole and M.A.M, and we were able to have a delightful get together. The kids played in a very cool fountain in the middle of Portland, and I think it is safe to say that Diesel, Kinhly, Lola, Lana, Lucy, and Gabriel all had a great time splashing around while, Nicole, M. and I chatted, and Husband explored Portland's farmer's market. (Well, okay, baby Lola was too little to splash around, but, she seemed to be very happy watching the other kids splash.) Then we all went back to Lucy's beautiful house (she is a very gracious host for an almost 2 year old, let me tell you), for pizza. It was a lovely time and I only regret that we didn't have more time to visit. Somewhere I have a really cute photo of Kinhly, Gabriel and Diesel drinking pop together, which I will try to post later this week.

9. The Seattle Aquarium is very cool, and the sea otters are so freaking adorable that you will try to plot a way to take one home with you. Undoubtedly, they would be difficult to take on a plane, though.

10. The Pacific Science Center is a lot of fun for kids. DO NOT, under any circumstances, EAT LUNCH THERE. Yikes, that was the worst meal we had all week. Happily, there are many kiosks with food not far from the Science Center, inside a building called "Seattle Center", including a place where you can get New Orleans style Beignets and also Shish Kabob (not New Orleans style, 'cause, you know, New Orleans is known for many delicious things, but, shish kabob is not one of them.) My point is, do not eat lunch at the Science Center because you will be unhappy and you might say something you will regret later.

Well, I'm just killing time until our flight leaves, happy Saturday everybody,


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Not-so-sleepless in Seattle...

Greetings from Seattle! We were concerned we were going to have to cancel our family vacation because of Husband's illness, but, happily we didn't have to. I am a quite sad to have missed out on the chance to meet Mrs. Broccoli Guy (http://mrsbroccoliguy.wordpress.com/), who moved across the country to avoid meeting me! (Kidding!)
The Tigers were playing the Mariners our first night in town! So we had to go. Unfortunately, the Tigers lost to Seattle. :-(
We had a gorgeous view of the city skyline from our seats in the park.

Husband's brother took us to some of his favorite places to hike.

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