Sunday, January 29, 2012

One of us is turning 40, and it ain't me.

Because our birthdays are less than 2 weeks apart, Brian (2/2/72) and I (1/21/77) make a big to-do of celebrating jointly each year.  This year, the two aquarians hired a sitter (thanks, Mimi!) and went out on the town.

We hired our newest childcare discovery to watch the boys:  a fun MALE sitter from our church, who is in college and works the nursery on Sunday/Wednesday nights and came with glowing recommendations from the children's minister, who personally completed his background check. His first night with us was New Year's Eve, and the boys were so enthralled by the "Manny" that we asked him back for the annual birthday bash night.  He is from Georgia (the country) and his name is Irakli.  Like it rhymes with broccoli.  That, in itself, is fun worth $12/hour.

So the first time he came, we had the boys fully ready for bed and fed and all of that.  But last night, we were more relaxed and confident that Irakli could handle things, so we prepared macaroni for him to feed them and left them in their street clothes. 

Just as we were walking out the door, Sam said, "No my macroni.  I eat noon-ulls."  So we whipped out a bag of penne and a tupperware bowl full of Brian's sauce, and left Irakli to handle it.

Oh, what a joy it is to hear the children say, "Bye Mama!  Bye Da-Da!" and not cry.  It is such pure pleaure to just drive somewhere where there are waiters to bring sustenance and none of the diners have yogurt in their hair.  In fact, we enjoy restaurants so much, that we went to three last night.

First, we tackled Suzy Wong's House of Yum.  We ordered three "starters" in succession and shared them as a meal: Red curry queso dip with won-ton chips, pork & bacon spring rolls (be still, my heart), and some vegetable potstickers.  I mean, please tell me what can go wrong with BBQ pork and bacon wrapped up in a fried shell and dipped into sweet/sour sauce?  No.thing.  So good I wanted to crawl up into the spring roll like a papoose.
For dessert, we went to "Nashville's first and only green certified restaurant," which of course is owned by a family whose kids go to John's school.  There were numerous disconcerting first-impression things about this place -- the lighting wasn't fun, there were people in there with fox stoles around their necks, and the waiter told us that the dessert menu was "simply verbal" and he'd be right back.  All we wanted was some doggone chocolate cake.  So after listening to the descriptions of their first two desserts, I was getting pretty discouraged.  But then there was a light at the end of the tunnel: I heard the word "chocolate."  And I must've blacked out for awhile, so bad was my need for chocolate after the curry/queso, fried wonton, pork, bacon, potsticker feast, because I remember asking him to repeat and explain exactly what he meant by "a chocolate burrito with pomegranate salsa."  It was some sort of thing concocted to look like a real burrito (I guess it's like those cupcakes that can be made to look like pizza or golf courses or whatever), and there were all these ridiculous details about how the chocolate looked like black beans and the cheese sauce wasn't really cheese but creme brulee, and the "salsa" was made with bright red pomegranate seeds to mimic the red of tomatoes.  All of the dessert options were priced at way more than Irakli was making per hour. 

Well, we considered the burrito for about two point two seconds before looking at each other and saying in unison, "Let's get outta here ... jinx buy me a coke."

I just cannot bear pretension about food.  Food can be good whether or not the menu is half-written in French.  Chocolate can be good even if you find a piece unwrapped in the bottom of your purse with fuzz and hair all over it. 

So we booked it outta there and went to another tapas-style place where we ordered some chocolate mousse for two.  It was like a combination of pudding and icing and whipped cream and paradise, and I nearly licked the plate clean. 

Home again, home again, hippety hop.

Irakli is doing homework at the kitchen table.  All is quiet.  He says it went well but that "Sam didn't want to go to sleep and wouldn't eat his noodles."  That seemed strange to me, but it was late, so I didn't ask too many questions.  We bid him adieu.

I venture into the kitchen to load the dishwasher, and there on the counter is Sam's bowl, full of plain noodles and a purple Mickey Mouse fork propped askew on the side.

Irakli apparently forgot the sauce. No wonder that baby didn't want his noon-ulls.

Then, we go in to check on the boys.  John is in typical John position: Sleeping in jeans with his belt full of paraphrenalia (his pocket knife, a 2-way radio, etc.), spread eagle, mouth agape with his Christmas lights on.  And Sam is in his crib with the gate down, fully clothed in dirty jeans, a nasty, yogurt-caked t-shirt, some dingy white socks with raisins ground into the bottoms, and a diaper that must've had at least 7 hours of experience prior to bedtime. 

A lesson in writing things down and giving specific instructions to the babysitter.

But it was worth it.  A night filled with cheese, bacon, and chocolate can really inspire you to make all kinds of excuses for the people who take care of your children.

Happy 35th & 40th birthdays to us! 

(I am NOT the older one.)

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bammy's Dance Moves

Sometimes he even rocks out with a guitar.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Me too, honey. Me too.

I'm guessing this was related to a discussion of MLK.  It's a little less idealistic than Dr. King, but still not a bad idea.  Nope.  Not a bad idea at all.  We may need to work on our clock skills though.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

To My Dear Sweet John-John (NOT on your birthday)

Dear John,
I always write to you on your birthday, but tonight I'm writing NOT because it's your birthday (but actually yesterday was mine, and it was fab.u.lous), but because we shared a moment (bedtime routine? hour?) that I want to remember.

Your grandparents are here this weekend, and they are staying an extra day to watch Sam for us tomorrow because he has two pink eyes and cannot expose other people.  But you were so upset tonight about the fact that they are leaving tomorrow afternoon, and you turned into this sniveling pile of emotion that I have rarely seen in you.  I sat with you, and listened, and validated, and just was THERE with you while you cried.

Good gracious, child: You do everything with SUCH intensity.  And usually that intensity is manifested in something energetic or annoying or just something sevenyearoldish.  Tonight, however, it came in the form of tears and sobbing and all kinds of stuff that I don't normally see in you. 

And it was one of the only times I've ever seen myself in you.  And it scared me.

I am not ashamed to say that it scared me enough into being the kind of mother that I wish I could be for you always.  The kind of mother who just loves with such ferocity and compassion that she can see herself in her children -- good and bad -- and is there to support them for it all.

Because John-John.  Seriously.  (As YOU say.)  This is probably not news even to you in all of your many seven years:  There are very few times when we connect. 

Mostly there are just times when you are being you, being honest, being seven, and I am being 35 and uptight and pretentious.
Mostly -- and embarrassingly -- there are just these snippets of time where you are just being a small, wild person, and I am being a wildly small-minded person. 
But Sweetheart: I have been sad in the same way that you were tonight. 
If anything in this life.  I have been sad.  Mostly in my 20s.  But it was big and strong enough to seem like way more than a decade.  And I watched terrified tonight as you endured some mix of sadness & exhaustion, which, in combination, were about as fun as bleach and ammonia.

And I wondered -- not for the first time -- if you got all that sadness from me.  Inherited it.  Just like you got my thick, wavy hair. 

So I started talking.  Telling stories.  Confessions really.  Just stuff to get your mind off of that horrible state -- that familiar state -- of Sitting-On-The-Side-The-Bed Wailing.

I told you the story of my childhood best friend Robyn.  And how MEAN I was to her when we were little.  And how much she just loved me back.  Ignored me.   Forgived me.  Made excuses for me even when I told her that she thought she was something "just because her feet were clean and mine weren't" ... and when she had literally gotten lost on the side of a mountain, and then found again, all I had to say was, "You smell like you've been OUT.SIDE. Gross."

And at this point I may have waxed philosophical about the importance of NOT BULLYING.  The necessity of radical acceptance and love.  Because I had been reading this:, and I was moved.

But the main point I want to make here is that after all that you stopped crying for the first time in HOURS, and you looked at me looking at you, and you said: "Mom.  You have never smiled like that."

"What do you mean?" I needed clarification.

"Your smile has never looked like that to me," you said.  "It is a different smile."

And in that moment of differentiation, I realized so much about God.  I realized that we are physically present on this earth to be his hands, feet, and mouth.  I had a connection with the divine because I realized that there is something earthly that is NOT NEGATIVE (unlike most earthly things): We have nearness to each other.  We have just (and all of) each other.

And I realized that I have you.  For now.  That I have this wonderfully intense little being that has been sent here to teach me about life, myself, the world, everything really.  I realized that "we own nothing.  Nothing is ours.  Not even love so fierce it burns like baby stars."  Gosh I love the Indigo Girls.

Because Lovey: I haven't ever smiled like that. 

That smile was just for you.

And I will never, EVER forget it.


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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why He Likes the Redheaded Woodpecker

In case you can't read any of this, here is what is says from left to right:

"Where's Mom?" (concerned & hungry baby woodpeckers)

"Worms are really hard to catch!" (distraught new mother woodpecker)

"I like the redheded woodpecker because of its sound.  Its head is a really brite red.  It can fly really high." (John's reasoning)

"Very nice!" (teacher's comment)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Helicopters & Tristadekaphobia

 For Christmas, John's Nanny & Grampy got him a super cool remote control helicopter.  The only problem with the helicopter was that it would not fly or even turn on.  This was such a shame, since I had dictated John's exact specifications for the helicopter to Nanny.  These included the quantity & placement of exhaust pipes, reach of the remote control, possible flying heights, and cost parameters.  And of course she had found one that met the requirements. 

And so because a helicopter was one of the ONLY specific things he had on his wish list, the fact that it wouldn't work was, obvously, disappointing.

So Nanny took back the dysfunctional helicopter and gave John-John the money to pick out the perfect (i.e., functional) helicopter for himself.  After Christmas, we were busy painting our bedroom and trying to refinance our house, so we have only just now gotten around to The Helicopter Replacement Shopping Trip.  Although it has been mentioned at least once every hour since Christmas Day.

On Monday, the boys all went to Target, cash in hand.  John picked out the helicopter you can see pictured above, which has no exhaust pipe, but three gears, a charger, and two rotors -- one on top to provide lift, and one on the tail to aid in turning.  The remote control itself is almost an exact replica of a real helicopter's cockpit (minus all the gauges and dials), which I know because to date, I have read each the following library books aloud at least seven times:

No one can ever say that I don't indulge the children in their interests.
Now the Helix 360 4-channel helicopter with Gyro is a part of my daily life, much like the cicadas were this past summer. 

It is a buzzing, flying object that moves mostly with abandon and often crash lands into my hair.  And then my lost hairs become entangled in its rotors.  Another neat trick it can do is hit the ceiling and knock off weird bulbous paint chips which Sam picks up and brings to me (and then I obsess about whether or not they could be lead-based).  It flies and buzzes.  (Did I mention that it buzzes and flies?) 

But the best trick of all is how this little flying toy has provided me with a newfound understanding of the male brain from age 2 to almost 40.  Little Sam is obsessed with grabbing it out of the air (or the ground, or the top of the fridge, or wherever it is hidden).  Brian stays up late at night "practicing" with the remote so that he can "help John understand it better."  And of course John never stops flying it around, hiding it from Sam, and discussing its various parts and amazing abilities. 

I did not intend to write this much about a helicopter.

But can't you see that the helicopter is a metaphor for ME? 

Think about it:  The boys like to push buttons and then watch things flap their wings, make noise, and hit the ceiling.  This is what I do daily in response to various Boy Activities.  Up until now, I have been their remote control helicopter.  They know exactly which of my buttons to push so that I fly, turn, hit the ceiling, crash into walls, land, somersault, spin, and buzz.  I have even been known to flap about wildly on the ground from time to time. 

Oh, and one more thing, the boys LOVE to discuss my helicopter parts: rotors and, ahem, exhaust pipes.

This definitely gives new meaning to the term "helicopter mom."

And calls attention to the fact that I should really be terrified of myself.

But really this is not about me.  (Really!)  I mean, I am happy for my child that his Christmas wish has come true.  I am!  But as of tonight, he has been banned from using it ever at all again in the house in my presence encouraged to use it only in my absence, as it sends me into absolute conniptions makes me feel a bit anxious. 

I have always hated any flying, buzzing object.  Especially if there is the possibility of it getting entangled in my hair.  This used to be an individual problem, but it has now evolved into a family "situation."


It is definitely not as big as the very unique and interesting problem of one of my new writing students, who recently wrote the paragraph below in an email to me.  The assignment was for each student to send me an email in which they introduced themselves and told me something unique or interesting about their lives.

I am very happy to take this class with you, for all my friends said you are a perfect teacher and i will be very comfortable with you. Ms. Kim you aske me something interesting about my self. I never try any kinds of pickles from my childhood to right now. It make me cry and nervous. Also, if I smell or view the pickle, I will not eat any thing whole the day. But This is not a satisfactory condition. My parents never bring them to our house although they are liked so much and my husband is doing same thing now. This thing caused and causes many problems in my life especially when I be invited to some where.

A simple google search of this phobia has revealed that it even has a name:  Tristadekaphobia, the fear of a pickle.  In fact, it is common enough that Maury Povich did a show on this topic, wherein he interviewed someone suffering from this condition (it was not my student). 

And so it is by re-reading this email repeatedly that I am inspired to learn how to live with my ridiculous fear of flying, buzzing things, and all the problems it has created for poor John, who is fascinated by them all -- bees, wasps, helicopters, etc.  I can console myself by embracing the fact that at least I am not an Iraqi, Muslim refugee living in a pickle-dense foreign land that is often hostile to people of her religion who have a mental disturbance.

Onward, upward, and sideways,

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Videos of Late

I recently cleaned my camera from the Christmas trip and some other stuff that had been on there for awhile.  Here are my four faves:

Vote for your favorite by leaving a comment!

Kairos Time

This is a way more articulate take on my exact theory of parenting:

And "Kairos" is the name of our Sunday school class.   

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Comparandome con mi companero

In case you can't translate, here's my rough estimate (feel free to correct me -- my Spanish is rusty enough to give someone lockjaw):

  • John B is taller.
  • Emilia is shorter.
  • Emilia has longer hair.
  • Emilia has smaller feet.
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Monday, January 09, 2012

Hold You Me

Recently Sam started saying a phrase that I would like to freeze in time, and forever keep it on hand for those moments wherein one wonders why one has procreated. 

Quit being horrified -- you know you have been there.

The sweet and gentle demand, "Hold you Mama!" has now evolved to, "Hold you ME, Mama."

If I say, "Oh, you want me to hold you?" He replies, "NO! HOLD. YOU. MEeeeee!!!!!!"

And even though it would be nice to (fill in the blank here) -- cook dinner, read a book, play piano, eat dinner, drive safely, etc -- I am eating up the developmental stage of him knowing only one "ME."

If only we could all get away with that kind of narcissism. 

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Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Gift of Being Intentionally Hard of Hearing

Well, we have started back to work, and Hannah has gone into labor.  Today is her due date, so that makes sense.  Both of her labors have started ON her due date.  Unheard of.  As I write this, she has just texted me to say that the contractions are still pretty irregular.  So now Sam will be staying with our neighbor while we work & Hannah acclimates to Life With Two.  When I asked Sam tonight if Mrs. Hannah was going to have a baby, he said, adamantly, "NO."

Not sure how smoothly his transition back will go.
Sam & John are both in pretty fun stages right now.  It's just that the stages do not go well together.  To be honest, I prefer to manage them separately.  In the morning, they play nicely, eat breakfast, and get read with no problems generally.  After school -- particularly during the dinner hour -- I put in my earplugs.

Have I mentioned that trick?  It's my newest Mom innovation, and it's brilliant:  LIVING WITH  EARPLUGS.  I got the idea from a friend, who was listening while I bemoaned the following traumatic states:

  • Motherhood During Dinner Time
  • Parenting in the Car
  • The 13-hour Holiday Roadtrip

So my friend said, "What you need is to bring it down a notch." 

Exactly!  And that's what my Etymotic High Fidelity Earplugs do.  I got them in red and paid $10 to have them overnighted.

With my Etymotic High Fidelity Earplugs, I can still hear all most conversation, but it's like the volume is turned down.  And since John often speaks to me as if I am deaf, this is perfect.  I wear them pretty much constantly, and I am not kidding when I say that it has changed my life.  I'm not as reactive and sometimes I don't even notice when someone is screaming, bleeding, or paralyzed. 

The bonus is that I can play the piano and tune out all other annoyances.  Even when John makes up words to go with the tune of  Schumann's "Traumerei" and every other line in the song has "fart" or "barf" in it, I am mostly oblivious.  I just imagine that I am Beethoven in the early stages of his deafness. 

Additionally, when Brian comes home and they start the horrendous ritual of Wrestling Hour, I can go into my room and read on my John's Kindle Fire and not even notice that someone is bloody-murder screaming: I CAN'T BREATHE. MY RIBS ARE BROKEN.  I'M DYING. GET OFF ME DAD!!!!!

Please don't misinterpret.  We are guilty of neither physical abuse nor neglect.  The boys WANT to be pummeled into the carpet and furniture, and I WANT to not hear my children a lot of the time.  It's perfectly normal.

In the next post, I may see fit to actually write about the children's "pretty fun stages," which I mentioned earlier.  But now it's off to bed for me.  I have the terrible burden of a 37.5 hour work week this week and next, and although it happens only twice a year, it nearly does me in.

Onward & Upward (in silence),

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Sunday, January 01, 2012

Christmas in Austin

Watching "The Polar Express" in a hotel room in Texarkana

It was fun until John had an allergic reaction to the chlorine and his eyes swelled shut.

Next year, I want to be a man during Christmas.

Plasma cars and Star Wars guns

Watching Dora

MiL & SiL

Reindeer pancakes with bacon antlers!  This was Sam's plate before he dumped $20 worth of maple syrup into it.

Christmas breakfast

One of Sam's favorite toys.

John shows excitement over his new Kindle Fire. 

Elmo Love

herding cats


Keeping Sam occupied while I cooked
It was merry!
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