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July 2012
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September 2012

Always funny

Sophia hit on a joke the other day that brought down the house. Now, Sophia is three, remember. So do I have to put the quote marks around "joke"? You understand, right?

Anyhow, we were driving somewhere (probably home from the new house), and she called out from her car seat prison, "What if...we had a DOG and we named it BUSTER BAXTER! BUT!" and here she started to giggle behind two coquettish hands that she'd brought up to her nose, "BUT we called him TOOTER BUTT!"

And lo, there was much hilarity. Tre was driving (Tre is always driving), and I was afraid he would run off the road. There were tears of mirth. Max and Raphael howled. I rolled my eyes, knowing what was coming next. And what was coming next was a thousand repeats of "TOOTER BUTT!" Sometimes the dog is named something other than Buster Baxter, like...Bust. But the punchline, the golden, golden punchline, always remains the same.

Tooter butt.

Tre laughs every time. Max gives her a polite chuckle. Raphael, depending on his mood, either laughs along, or demonstrates his disgust with the sort of eye roll that requires full head involvement to a degree that I doubt our chiropractor would approve of. Clay and I pretend to be deaf. I suppose I should try to encourage her to strive for a more ladylike tone, but I'm not sure it's worth the effort. I don't try to stop water from being wet, either. 

The other day Sophia and I were driving somewhere, and I heard her quietly running through the Tooter Butt routine behind me. After a few reiterations, she called out, "Mom? Mom? Tooter Butt isn't funny anymore."

"Oh, really?" I said, falling back on the response that I use for 94% of my children's statements.

"No. It's not." She was silent for a moment. I could almost feel the maturity level rising in her. "BUTT is ALWAYS funny, though."

No place like it

Sorry to disappear! Here I was, supposed to come home, all renewed and refreshed, possibly full of wise insights I'd gleaned from my time alone (note to self: don't expect a great deal of new insight when your company You pretty much already know what you have to say). Instead, I fell completely silent, leaving a few people wondering if I ever came back at all.

Yes, friends, yes, I came home. I was delighted with my well-rested self, and ever so happy to see my loving family, and ready to tackle love and life at home...and nursing a tiny tickle of a wee cold in my throat.

Can you guess what happened next? Can you? I got SICK. MISERABLE. Coughing, snotting, bleary-eyed, disgustingly ill. Clay must have gazed upon my glassy-eyed, mouth-breathing beauty and patted himself on the back for having the idea to give me a weekend away. "Why didn't I do this sooner?" he asked himself, I'm sure, "when I sent away my lovely but stressed wife and got back this oozing swamp creature of a life partner?"

The best part, of course, was the hourly coughing jags that kept me up all night. Because we all love those, don't we? But then Sophia got in on the act. Not with the cold, but with sleep follies. Just now I was talking to Clay about Sophia's sleep problems, and I suggested maybe it's time to see a sleep specialist. He said, "Why? She doesn't sleep." Oh, it's a good thing I think he's almost as funny as he does.

So anyhow, one of the flavors of Sophia's sleep problems is where she hallucinates. Yes, really. So there we are, with Sophia tucked in between us (what, you're going to leave the hallucinating child all alone with her spiders?), randomly slapping the bugs off our faces. When she settles down, I am gripped by a coughing spasm. I fumble for my cough drops, water, ANYTHING to make it stop, tears streaming. Sophia glares at me, her hands clapped firmly over her ears. Because *I* am the annoying one to sleep with here. On the far edge of the bed, clinging to the generous six inches of sleeping space he's left with, Clay is thanking God that he ever met me and traded the bachelor's life for all this joy.

I have to say, though, that despite the fact that I am currently so tired that I could happily sleep for a month, I still feel better for having taken the time away. On a level that has nothing to do with sleep debt, I really am refreshed. It's good to know my family can survive without me. It's great to know they really don't want to. Something about getting away from home, just for a bit, clarifies for me just where home is. 


Don't tell anyone, but I've run away from home. Not far, mind you. I'm in a hotel room, not even on the other side of town. And not for long, either, because I'm going home Saturday. But for right now? I am sitting all alone in a quiet room. There is chocolate. It will not be shared.

When I told my mom about my plans to run away, she said, mock-scolding, "You are going to miss your family, you know."

And I said YES, of course! And what a gift - a chance to miss my family!

So tonight I'm resting, in a quiet room, all alone. And in a few days I'll dive back into the chaos and joy that is home, and hopefully by then I'll have soaked up enough of this peace to take it with me. 

Now, I'm going to go take a bath. Oh yes, I am. 

Shine, baby, shine

I'm going to go ahead here and give you another glimpse into what a sad, little person I am. I'm okay with that, because admitting it is sort of my penance, and by doing so, I get to give you a present of sorts, and you deserve it. Yes, you. You DO.

Remember a few years back, when I was lucky enough to tag along with some very talented women on the blog Five Full Plates? It started out as a weight loss contest, then morphed into a carnival of fail series of different challenges. Then we all wandered off, exhausted and distracted as usual. Heh. 

Anyhow, one of the participants there was Lydia Netzer. I've still never met Lydia face to face, but got to know her somewhat through the blog. We're Face Book friends, lest you think it's not a real relationship. And some news I heard on ye olde Face Book was that Lydia sold her novel. THE novel. The one she'd been writing for a decade!

Well, The Novel just came out. Shine, Shine, Shine. And I responded to this news with a lovely bouquet of emotions that I will now show you. There was some, "oh jeez, I'm going to have to say something nice about this, even though it's about robots or something. SO do not care about robots." And a dash of, "I kind of hate her for being so amazing." (In case you don't know, Lydia is also a homeschooler. Who sings in a rock band. And recently took an amazing trip to France. And oh yeah, NOVEL.) Wrap all that up in a lovely ribbon of self-centered pouting, and you have a pretty good idea of my small, sad little person self. 

 I know, it just makes you proud, doesn't it?

Well, despite my small self (I would like to point out that I referred to my self as "small" three times now without making a self-deprecating remark about my weight. Score one for my wizened soul), I went ahead and ordered the audio book version of her book, because it's read by Joshilyn Jackson, and I thought that sounded like fun, listening to her read.

Oh. Oh. You guys. This book? It. Is. So. Good.

It's beautiful and complex and wise and funny. I got severely annoyed with myself for buying the audio book, rather than a book book, because I got obsessed with the story and the characters, and I wanted to gulp it down, rather than listening at a measured pace. I was so invested in the characters that when it was over, and I listened to the interview Joshilyn did with Lydia, I got cranky at both of them for talking about how the book evolved, because I didn't like them talking about Sunny like that. 

I loved it so much, that I'm going to have to go ahead an buy a print copy, because owning the audio file doesn't feel secure enough. 

So here's my gift to you: go buy this book. Go. Now. If you're my brother, go buy it, and then write inside, "To Josh, from Kira - YOU'RE WELCOME." Trust me, you'll thank me. (I know that as gifts go, this one is sort of...lame, but I already told you how pitiful I am, and still, YOU WILL THANK ME.)

And Lydia? Thanks for writing it. You truly are a rock star.

Raphi's boats

Yesterday Raphael wanted to go to an end of summer celebration for youth group. He's just started going, as an up-and-coming 6th grader. (It was while I was driving him home from his first youth group event that I realized that he's actually a middle schooler now. This was so disconcerting that I nearly drove off the road, so I decided not to think about it. This is going fairly well, actually, as a coping mechanism. It could be complicated in a few weeks here, but la la la, I can't hear you.)

Anyhow, said youth group event was at a local reservoir - what passes for a beach bash here in land-locked Colorado. Raphael was fairly buzzing with the thrill of it all as we drove out there. Max and Tre were working with Clay at the new house, so it was just Sophia and I, dropping him off. Sophia doesn't much care for leaving her brothers in unexpected places, and then to add insult to injury, the only towel in the van was hers. So we drove away without Raphael, who was holding her towel, and she was OUTRAGED.

We had errands to run, including a trip to the grocery store. This was enough to eventually jolly her out of bellowing at me from her car seat, so soon all was well. We toddled our way through the store, where she sampled and then discarded the free kids' cookie, examined all the band-aid choices, and weighed in on the merits of flour vs. corn tortillas ("Those corn ones are nashty, Mom. You can eat my flour ones, except not all of them"). She helped me ring up our purchases, and we were done.

We headed out to the parking lot to see...clouds. Massive, ominous, gray clouds everywhere. I strapped Sophia in her seat, shooting nervous glances at the sky. Within minutes the van was being pelted with sheets of rain and a smattering of hail. Wind rocked us, and I decided I needed to go pick up my Raphael, whom I had left outside, with nothing but his sister's towel for protection.

The clouds were so thick and dark they looked like a slab of rock above us. And although they were perfectly still, they reminded me of the sort of cloud that moves just a tiny bit, off in the edge of your vision. You turn to see what moved, and almost glimpse another move out of the corner of the other eye. While you're scanning, trying to pin down what you're seeing, suddenly a patch of solid-looking cloud starts to churn...and swirl...and twist...

I'm not saying that I EXPECTED a tornado to reach down and flick my baby around the surface of the earth. I'm just saying IF it were to happen, it would be during the summer of 2012. That's all I'm saying. Plus, he was on the side of town that tornadoes prefer. And have I mentioned feeling a slight lack of security lately?

So I drove back out to get him.

Sophia was solidly on board with this plan. On the way out there, she told me all about the situation, like she was an NBC employee covering the Olympics. "It is raining very very much! And it is winding too! And we will go get Raphi! I'm not scared, and Mommy is not scared, and Raphi is probably wet because of the raining!"

As we drew close to the reservoir, the masts of several boats came into view. She recognised them from our previous trip and cried out, "OH, there are Raphi's boats! There they are! Raphi is just on the other side! We will get Raphi soon!"

It pressed against me, her joy and bright assurance. It is ridiculous, how we humans go around, letting our hearts sit naked in the world. How we pin our love for our people on the land and things that surround them. That is the best tree, because my sons' bare feet all dangled from it one summer day. This is my favorite park, because he proposed to me there. Those are Raphi's wonderful boats, because he is surely safe on the other side of them.

It is ridiculous and irrational and it makes no sense, and it is so so true.

In the end, I found Raphael with his group, holed up in a concession building, playing cards. I was rewarded for my effort with a horrified look that suggested I had ruined his life by showing up and existing in the presence of his friends. I actually left him there and went back (again) later to get him. Sophia was so relieved to finally have him safe in the van that she insisted he sit next to her, then sucker-punched him in the head the minute he looked away.

Ridiculous, all of it. And so true.