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January 2004
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March 2004

How was everyone’s Leap Day?

How was everyone’s Leap Day? Did you all observe with solemnity the importance of the day? Yeah, me neither. The closest thing to a Leap Day celebration we had around here is when Raphael played with the Leap Pad.
Today is my friend Amy’s son, William’s birthday. Whoa, tangled sentence. Let me try again. Today is the birthday of William, the son of my dear friend Amy. He’s four. When Amy was pregnant and her due date was approaching around Leap Day, I urged her to have him on February 29. But she said noooo, she didn’t want her son’s birthday complicated by the whole leap year madness. She was hoping to hold out until March.
William was born March 1, and I’ve never quite gotten over it. I’m still convinced she could have had him on February 29 if she’d just wanted to, but no. And now the day is here again…sniff…it’s bringing up old wounds…sniff…
Nonetheless, William is now four, and a fine sturdy lad he is. Happy birthday, William! And Amy and John, you’re doing a wonderful job with him and Carolyn – even if you didn’t have him on the right day. I’ll get over that eventually.
I had a quiet day Sunday, here at home with my boys. Tre and Raphael have a cold so we stayed home from church. Max isn’t sick, but he got to go play with the Natalie across the street, so it was just what everyone needed.
I keep claiming to be fighting the cold, but the truth is it’s fighting back. I’m a little sick. Just a little, and it hurts my pride to admit that. I don’t get sick, see. But there really was no way I was going to avoid this particular disease. Raphael keeps climbing on my lap and pressing his snot-slimed little face to mine, lovingly patting my cheek as he covertly engages in germ warfare.
So I’m sneezing and sniffing and not writing engaging prose. Ah well. I’m off to bed. Better luck to all of us tomorrow.

Ok, in everyone's life there

Ok, in everyone's life there comes the day. The unthinkable becomes irresistible, and you submit to...
The Quiz.
I couldn't help it. And I gotta say, it's fairly accurate. I don't know what to say about being a Belgian waffle...

You're The Poisonwood Bible!
by Barbara Kingsolver
Deeply rooted in a religious background, you have since become both isolated and schizophrenic. You were naively sure that your actions would help people, but of course they were resistant to your message and ultimately disaster ensued. Since you can see so many sides of the same issue, you are both wise beyond your years and tied to worthless perspectives. If you were a type of waffle, it would be Belgian.
Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

I took the boys to

I took the boys to get their hair cut today. Hair cuts are one of the details of mothering that I’m simply not good at. Their hair grows and grows and one day I look up to note mildly that they seem to be blinded by their bangs. Geez, I think, they need haircuts again. Already. Let’s see, it’s only been…three months.
Oh. Ok then.
Fingernails too. I simply cannot keep up with their claws. I try to justify my neglect with the thought that if you include mine, I’m in charge of eighty finger and toenails. Now that’s a lot of clipping. No wonder I get behind.
On the way to the hair appointment, Tre asked if he could have his hair spiked. I said that was fine with me, but he’d have to ask for it when it was his turn. Well, the idea snowballed from there, and by the time they left Kristy’s able hands, Tre had purple spikes, Max had green spikes, and Raphael had the silliest headful of wee blue spikes. They look like hedgehogs or rock stars, I’m not sure which. Sort of hedgestars, I suppose.
They were thrillllllled with their new looks, and Tre and Max immediately started pretending to shoot lasers out of the tops of their heads. If it’s cool, it can probably be used as a weapon.
I like the look, I do. But I’ve been surprised by how much I seem to run my fingers through their hair, because I’ve found myself reaching for it many many times today. This always earns me a hasty head-dodge, complete with sour look and the annoyed proclamation, “Moooooom. Don’t touch my hair!”
Life is hard for the mother of hedgestars.

One quick update from the post a few days ago, when I was musing on what the boys might be when they grow up. The other day Raphael decided to follow me into the bathroom. He likes to position himself at the flush handle. So there he was, and as I sat down his comment was, “Mama, yoo gotta big bottom!”
He meant it admiringly, but I don’t think I have to worry about his adulthood. Child’s not going to make it to three with comments like that.

I took Claire (our beautiful

I took Claire (our beautiful stupid cat) to the vet’s office today. She’d been just a month ago, but it was necessary to take her back for a feline leukemia booster. Last month the vet had told me soberly, “Feline leukemia is like cat AIDS. It destroys their immune system. They die a slow, lingering death. But if you don’t want her vaccinated…” He trailed off sadly, unable to finish the thought. Like I could say no then. I told him, practically begged him, to vaccinate our cat. He wiped away a tiny tear of joy and informed me I’d need to come back in a month for a booster after the original dose.
So today, while Tre and Max were in school, I loaded Raphael and Claire into the van. Claire is a sweet and docile cat, unless you try to put her in a carrier. She goes psycho cat. She claws, yowls, and rams her head against the walls. She destroyed the cardboard carrier we brought her home in. So all things considered, it seemed kinder to carry her into the office.
Oh, Claire was fine. She huddled against me, trembling. But the sight of my flagrantly unrestrained animal sent the vet’s office staff into paroxysm of self-righteousness. What IS it with people who work with animals? I’m an animal lover, I really am. Hey, I went for the feline leukemia vaccine, right? I care, I really do. But I simply cannot care about all the many rules that separate the “good” pet owners from, well, me.
First person who laid eyes on me, my cat, and my Raphael trotted over with a deeply concerned look on her face.
“Oh, no carrier. Well, why don’t we put you right in a waiting room? You know, we had a cat get away last week. She ran right out the door before we could stop her.”
I followed her to the waiting room, feebly explaining Claire’s aversion to carriers.
“She’s fine really. She won’t let me put her down, see?” And I set her down on the examining table and let go. She scooted over to me and latched onto my stomach with one pawful of claws. I winced, and then said breezily, “The last thing I have to worry about is her running off.” The vet tech shook her head disapprovingly at me, and then ducked out to get my file.
I lifted Raphael up onto the table next to Claire, and we spent a few moments petting her and saying reassuring things to her. Raphael seemed to feel that what Claire really needed was a finger in the ear, but was convinced to restrict himself to gentle pats on the back. After a while the vet came in with the syringe. She gave Claire the shot, then turned to me and asked somberly, “Would you like to buy a carrier for the ride home?”
“Uh, no thanks,” I said weakly, “Claire really hates those things…she-“
“Last week we had a cat get out the door. No carrier.” She raised her eyebrows meaningfully, “There is a very busy road right outside our door.”
”I’ll keep that in mind, thanks.”
We headed to the desk, to settle the bill. I handed the payment to the lady behind the desk. She gave me the itemized bill and as I was perusing it she asked if I wanted to buy a carrier. By this time I was annoyed.
“No, but thanks,” I said in a very unthankful tone.
“Just last week someone brought in a cat without a carrier and it got out the door. Ran away. It might have gotten hit by a car, I don’t remember.”
“Yes, so I’ve heard,” I replied through my teeth. “Um…fifteen dollars for an office visit that just consisted of one shot?”
“Yes. It’s office policy.”
The way I figure it, that makes five dollars for each rendition of the “cat with no carrier” story.

I know it’s pointless, but

I know it’s pointless, but I tend to look at my sons and imagine what they will be like when they grow up. Tre will be fine, I think. He’s such a determined soul; I believe he’ll be successful at work. He’ll be a captain of industry. At home…well, my hope for him is that he’ll marry a kind and patient woman who will often say to him, “I know, you’re right. Now how about you just let it go?” A woman who can smile and nod indulgently, because LORD that child can persist.
The other day we were in the car and I had put it a Veggie Tales sing-a-long tape for Raphael (Raphael loooooooooves Veggie Tales). Tre was objecting vociferously, insisting it was his turn to choose the tape and he wanted this tape and why didn’t I take the tape from him and on and on and on.
I sighed, and explained yet again that even if it was his turn, I needed Raphael to stay awake, so I was going to leave the Veggie Tales tape on and he could stop asking now, thankyouverymuch.
Two seconds passed, and Tre launched into yet another diatribe on the unfairness, nay the HORROR of the airing of Veggie Tales yet again, when we had just listened to it the other day on the way down to Colorado Springs so now it was his turn and he should get to listen to the “Determination” tape and-
“Wait a minute;” I broke in, “what tape is it you wanted to listen to?”
“This one,” he replied, holding up the “Core Values” tape, “the one on determination.”
He still doesn’t know what I was laughing at.
What Max will be like when he grows up is more of a puzzle. For now my money is on either Nobel Prize winner or homeless person. On the one hand, he’s got this complex mind. He loves playing chess, and no one can beat him at mancala. On the other hand, he’s got this complex mind, and God alone knows where it will take him. The other day he announced he has a “lost and found” in his room. He took me to look at it, and there it was, a basket with assorted items from around the house. I peered in, and among other things there was my newspaper, the board from the Cooties game, a pair of socks from Raphael’s drawer, and Tre’s nightlight.
“Honey,” I said, “these things weren’t lost.”
He looked back at me with that inscrutable tiny smile, “well…now they are.”
“So they’re lost because you found them?”
He gave a sigh at my stupidity, “yes, Mama. Lost and found.”
“Where did you find Tre’s nightlight?”
“Plugged in his room.”
“Ah. Well, put it back.”
See? Who knows where he’ll end up?
And Raphael. Well, it’s hard to separate his personality from his two-ness. He’s so very loud and enthusiastic…the best picture I can come up with for him is a cheerleader. Our president was a cheerleader, right? But then, I’m not about to accuse the child of having what it takes to become president, for heaven’s sake. I mean really. Bite your tongue.
But like I said, it really is pointless. I mean, when I was eight I was an odd little girl who read books in trees and had a bad habit of lighting fires. Um, in the living room. I don’t know where my parents imagined my quirks would take me, but I don’t think they could have imagined I would be the person I am today. I almost never light fires in the living room anymore.
I guess I’ll just do what parents do, try to hold my hopes loosely, ignore the sweaty fears in the middle of the night, and hang on and enjoy the ride.

I’ve just finished watching “As

I’ve just finished watching “As Time Goes By” on PBS, and now I’m thinking in an English accent. Such a sweet show. In case you haven’t seen it, it’s about an English couple, in their…what…fifties, I guess. They were lovers when they were young, then lost touch. Years later, after his divorce and years of her widowhood, they run into each other and strike up an awkward but sincere courtship. So sweet.
So now I’m all emotionally gooey and thinking in an English accent.
I used to watch this show with my ex. It came on at ten every weeknight and I would be sure the kids were in bed and hope he would be home in time to sit next to me on the couch and hold my feet. He worked in the restaurant industry, so he came home late a lot. If he made it home in time for “As Time Goes By” it was a good night, an early night.
When I saw it was on again tonight (it’s been off the schedule for a while) I had to watch it. It was like checking in on old friends you haven’t seen in ages. Plus I wondered how I would feeeeeeel about it.
You know, since I used to watch it with him.
Well, I felt fine. It’s a funny show (luv that British humor…er…humour), and the characters were as endearing as ever. I didn’t find myself thinking about my ex at all. Instead I thought about the premise of the program, this unexpected meeting that sparks an entire new direction in both their lives.
You never know what’s around the bend.
I’m pleased to report that that sounds hopeful.

Want a news flash from

Want a news flash from the estrogen-American perspective?
Periods suck.
By which I mean the monthly menstrual cycle, not the punctuation marks.
But you probably already figured that out from the snippy tone of this post.
As if cramps, nausea, and a blinding migraine headache aren’t enough to make me just jump up and click my heels because I’m a woman, I also seem unable to form a coherent thought.
Case in point, I started this with some…point I had to make….
And now it’s gone.
I also misspelled migraine.
I hate those squiggly red lines in MS Word. They pop up the minute you hit the space bar after misspelling a word. Leave me alone, squiggly red lines. I'll spell check eventually. I don't need you bugging me.
I also hate the squiggly green lines. They’re there to point out grammar problems, and they seem to think sentence fragments are always a grammar problem.
I don’t.
Leave me alone, squiggly green lines.
I give up.
I’ll try again tomorrow when most mental functions should be back on line.

Two more signposts recently on

Two more signposts recently on the road to my babies growing up. Raphael has hit “normal dysfluency,” a period where his machine gun fast mind outpaces his motor mouth, and he stutters. It’s disconcerting to him. He’ll start to say something and get hung up on a sound. Yesterday the boys, Mom, and I were out to lunch with my grandparents and Raphael leaned over and said to me, “Wh-wh-wh-wh-wh..” he stopped, looked irritated and started again, “wh-wh-wh-wh-wh. Ah can’t say wh-wh-wh-.” He broke off in annoyance, then shrugged and went back to his chicken fingers.
I’m not worried about it. I was when Tre did it, because I worried about everything Tre did. But I’ve seen Tre come out on the other side with his language intact, and then Max survived it fine. What’s a little sad about it is that I know in a few months when this resolves Raphael will have moved into a new level of language. He’ll sound less like a baby and more like a little boy. Not sure I’m ready for that.
And yesterday Max was looking at a music box. He was watching the workings inside the box, whirring under the glass. He was transfixed, leaning against my arm and watching the teeth of the drum pluck the metal bands. “It’s like a pinano,” he breathed. Across the room Tre snorted.
”PIANO,” he corrected disdainfully. Max watched the music box in silence for a moment.
“Piano,” he murmured.
I glared at Tre, but it was too late. Pinano has become piano. This is just how lallow became yellow. You would think Tre would have learned not to correct his brother’s adorable mispronunciations, but nooooooo. He’s got this thing about accuracy.
And so we move on.

I’m going to have to

I’m going to have to make this quick because it’s late and I’m tired. Now, I know I’m whining, but it’s all true. Allow me to explain.
1) It’s late.
After Tre and Max were in bed I decided to let Raphael have a bath. Yes, I know Raphael’s the youngest and it’s bizarre that he should have the latest bedtime. It’s my own personal problem. He still takes a nap, you see. If I’d just cut out the nap, he’d go to bed with the other boys. But I can’t even begin to imagine…no nap…I try to think about that and my mind slips gears…I go away to my happy place…
Tre was happily reading, Max was sound asleep (the child falls asleep faster than anyone I’ve ever known), and Raphael was splashing around in the tub. I puttered around, put things away, cleaned the cat box, thrilling stuff like that. Normally I would have started writing the blog right around then. But I couldn’t exactly go downstairs to the computer and leave the cherub in the bath alone, now could I?
He stayed in there for one hour and fifteen minutes. And then he was hauled out under protest. He played and talked to himself. He carried on dramas featuring the alligator and the dinosaur. He did water pouring experiments over his head. I swear the child would still be there, but I put my foot down.
I dried him off and tucked him in my bed to warm up. The water had cooled off considerably, after all. I had turned on my electric blanket, so it was nice and toasty in there. He had his favorite pre-bed snack, animal crackers, and was very happy indeed. After a while I realized it was nearly 10p.m. Enough already.
“Time for bed!” I announced cheerfully. I reached for him and I swear to you, the child growled at me. He clutched the cover under his chin and growled like a cornered cat.
Fortunately I’ve been a mother too long to be intimidated by children who seem possessed. I managed to wrest him free from my bed and into his own, thankyouverymuch.
2) I’m tired.
Tre has been trying to kill me. Ok, not literally. At least, I don’t think he could be convicted. But he’s hit a new high in schoolwork avoidance. Usually it’s really not a problem, but every so often he gets in this non-working rut. Today it took him TWO SOLID HOURS to finish his math. And the really horrifying thing about that is that math is his favorite subject.
Oh, he tried, he really did. He would start to work on a problem, then become stymied by the fact that he seemed to be turned around in his chair, with his legs lopped over the back. You think it’s easy to do multiplication like that? Huh?
He’d turn around and lean over his paper again, only to have his pencil spring from his hand to the floor. So he’d lean over to pick it up and fall, ending up suspended between two chairs by his shoulders. This would remind him of a joke…
Two hours.
I’ve learned when he gets like this it’s best for everyone if I just stand back. Put his work in front of him and retreat. I’m available for questions and I’m clear with the consequences if the work isn’t done, but other than that he’s on his own. Otherwise I end up sitting next to him, barking, “Look at the paper! Look at it! HERE! What does it say? No, HERE!”
Not good.
So I let him be and he diddled around until time was up and he’d lost GameBoy privileges for the day. Heartbroken wails, gigantic tears.
He was pretty upset too.

So there you go. To sum up, 1) late 2) tired.

I am not panicking. See

I am not panicking. See how calmly I’m sitting here, not panicking? I’m typing. I’m writing coherent sentences. Certainly not panicking.
My lawyer’s office called yesterday. It seems my ex has scheduled a meeting – a review with the county’s child support office. I don’t know why. I’m not afraid of money issues.
But I have to see him. March 26 I’ll be in the same room as him.
What’s that term psychologists use? Compartmentalizing? There are pictures in my head, representing the eras of my knowledge of my ex. When we met and dated. When we fell in love and married. The children being born and changing both of us – forever, I thought.
Then there’s the era of the end. The marriage splintering around us. The unbelievable cruelty of divorce. I still can’t look at that unblinkingly.
Then he was gone. Just gone. Slowly we all came to understand that the phone ringing wasn’t him. The doorbell wasn’t him. He was out of our lives.
Now if I think of him, it’s the early years I think of. There are many good moments to recall. He’s a memory, harmless and misty. Sometimes I blurt out a sweet story from our early days to people who know what the end was like, and there’s an awkward silence. But the early picture is good. And the later picture is shoved out of my mind.
Every so often, though, it hits me that he still exists. He lives, out there somewhere, and I don’t know where or what his life is like. What clothes he wears. If he’s flossing his teeth. Who he rooted for in the Super Bowl. But even though I don’t know anything about his life, he’s out there, living. It’s jarring; to admit the reality of him into the peace I’ve grown into since the divorce.
He exists.
The last time I saw him it was an accidental encounter, and it was horrible. He was so angry and I argued with his anger weakly, my words dissipating into thin air between my mouth and his ears. It was like a dream, where you scream and nothing comes out. I felt like my lungs would collapse from the useless effort of trying to make myself be heard.
He exists, and he hates me.
If I can sit in the same room as him and not shake with that knowledge, if I can refuse to argue with his logic, if I can respond to his anger coolly, I suppose I can do this.
He may have gone on with living but so did I, after all.