Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Just Hair

My house feels extra small when it rains. The backyard becomes a swampy mud pit and there are only so many times we can suit up in our rain gear and ride slippery-pedaled bikes around the block and so we end up hanging out inside a lot. I am eternally grateful for the invention of Harry Potter Uno and for Sawyer's surprising ability to pick it up fast enough to play with the rest of us. The fire is warm and there are plenty of books to be read, so I guess the rainy season isn't so hard on us after all.

Jack has decided that he wants to learn how to read. He is working on letter sounds and stringing words together. It won't be long now, I think.

And when the rain subsides we emerge from our cozy bear cave, throw snacks and kids and dog into the car and go. Because inhaling that fresh winter air is good for our souls and we all need to take care of our little souls from time to time. Especially in January.

The long-anticipated BIG BOY haircut happened this week. I thought I might feel a twinge of sadness as I watched those golden locks flutter to the floor. And I was right, but it was time. Hell, it was past time. The kid is almost THREE YEARS OLD for god's sake.

Besides, it's just hair.

Just hair. But once you go for the big boy cut, you really can't go back and when you are a sentimental sap like me, you attach all kinds of emotional value to something like your baby's hair. Even when your baby is almost three.

They just keep getting bigger, these kids.

He still slips his thumb into his mouth for comfort and drags around a faded green blanky and wants to be held at the most inopportune moments. But he also puts his own boots on and stuffs his pockets full of cars and talks about his friends and has an opinion about everything. He is a big boy.

There's something liberating about having potty trained kids who sleep through the night and eat dinner at the table and have distinct personalities and the ability to communicate with others. Then again, sometimes I yearn to cradle his sweet baby body just once more and breathe in his clean, milky scent and run my lips over that tuft of baby fuzzhead. And so I wait until he is asleep and I tiptoe to his bedside to tuck the blankets in around him and I listen to his sleeping noises and my fingers go instinctively to that soft, silky hair. I gather toy cars from his tangle of blankets and move a stack of books from the bed to the floor and then I slip out the door and leave him to sleep in his big boy bed.

I guess that's why it was hard to cut the hair.

Since I am at least five years behind in most trends and/or technological advances (hey, I've been KINDA BUSY the past few years) I recently discovered the supreme awesomeness of Pandora Radio.

I get totally lost in my own memories when I listen to the Pixies station. One minute I'm in my kitchen stirring up a big pot of chili with my kids underfoot and then suddenly I'm sixteen and browsing through a Seattle record store and realizing that the music is speaking to me. Whispering in my ear and echoing my own thoughts that I've never dared to put into words. Moments later I'm twenty-one and I'm sitting in downtown Portland traffic on my way to work, wondering if I should go back to school. Wondering if I'll ever get a good boyfriend. I stir the chili and realize that I haven't felt that familiar pang of loneliness for years now. Jack says, "What's this one called?" and I reply, "Cake. This band is called Cake." "I love them!" He jumps up and down in his clumsy and endearing attempt at rhythm and I know someday the music will speak to him, too.

Then Sawyer comes barreling through the kitchen with an armload of cars on some mission of destruction and pauses to smile up at me. "Mom, like my new haircut, Mom?"

No, buddy, I love it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Snow Day That Wasn't

Around this time every year I start itching for a good old fashioned snow day to stave off those January blahs. There's just something about a day of freedom and the promise of sledding and snowmen and hot chocolate, and the tranquility and purity that a blanket of fresh white snow bestows upon us all.

We got our snow day, except that it was a holiday and so we all had the day off already, thus making it only slightly less thrilling. But our excitement waned by 10:30 when it all began to melt and my poor, snow deprived children had to tromp unceremoniously back into the house to shed their muddy layers. And then they demanded the hot chocolate. (That wasn't enough for my sweet tooth so we also made some epic hazelnut brownies.)

One of the nicer things about working in a rural district is that I'm not constantly running into students and parents. I always hate it when I make a tousle-haired beer run to Freddy's in my sweats and run into kids I know from school. Thankfully that doesn't happen often, because I live far enough away from their epicenter, and I'm not going to lie: I do make those runs to Freddy's on a regular basis.

But the best part about working out in the sticks is that sometimes I get a snow day when there's no snow at my house, which is exactly what happened on Tuesday. We slept in and ate pumpkin pancakes and I had an extra cup of coffee. I indulged Jack in his latest obsession: the Little House on the Prairie books. (Yes, I am WELL AWARE of the fact that I need a daughter- but the Little House books do kind of have a universal appeal, especially when Pa cleans his gun and skins deer and such.) I am telling you- this kid is a chapter book addict. We flew through the 2nd Harry Potter book and I'm stalling on #3 because it all gets so dark and sinister and I don't want to traumatize the little lad. Besides, those books will still be waiting for us when we finish the Little House series and maybe when he's five he'll be ready to read about Death Eaters. Or not. He's relentlessly badgered Brent into reading the Henry Huggins books and so now he's got each of us on a chapter book and so there is always someone to whine to about reading. PLEASE! JUST ONE CHAPTER, PLEASE! Yup, an addict I tell you.

Sawyer, on the other hand, detests the chapter books and demonstrates this by snatching them from my hands and throwing them across the room and/or turning off the lights while we are trying to read. Sigh.

We spent part of the morning at the open gym where I mingled with the stay at home mom crowd and watched my kids trampoline their little hearts out and then we came home to make chocolate chip M&M cookies. Why M&Ms? Because certain somebodies like to nibble on my baking supplies during the week and when you run short on chocolate chips, M&Ms will come through in a pinch.

So basically we did a whole lot of relaxing and nothing too noteworthy happened and I kind of wonder what the point is in sharing this drivel, but then again, a snow day is a snow day, even if there is no snow at all.

AND THEN! Then the sky opened up and let loose a deluge and the rivers swelled and the roads flooded over and ONCE MORE it pays to work out in the sticks because we got TWO MORE days off. Which was, of course, not cool at all when you watch the news and see people being evacuated from their homes. The people with livestock? Oh man.

And do I have anything blog worthy to report from those two days? Nope. But I will tell you that there was lots of reading by the fire and many cookies were eaten and we are all well-fed and rested. I probably have forgotten how to teach by now and next week is going to be a bitch, but right now the flood waters are receding and Brent and Jack are snuggled up on the couch with Henry and Ribsy. And Sawyer, our cowboy superhero, is sound asleep in his bed.

I think I'll go eat some more cookies. Or take a nap. Or both. Happy weekend!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Picking Up the Spare

A little known and quite random fact about me is that I am actually kind of good at bowling.

"You know, it's weird that you're good at bowling 'cause you really don't seem like you would be," Brent told me after a recent ass-kicking at the bowling alley.

But I know what he means. I'm usually not good at things that involve physical coordination or strength. I do, however, have a bowling strategy: I pick up the spare.

I think most people aim for the strike right away, but that would never work for me. I almost never get strikes. But I do get spares, and that's how I win the game.

And since it's January and we're all setting those pesky resolutions for the new year, I think I'll just say right now that I plan to go for the spare rather than the strike this year. I struck out last year when I set the bar way too high by attempting to acknowledge your birthdays. I do that too much: expect great things of myself and then feel bad when I can't make it happen.

It turns out that there are a lot of things that I simply cannot make happen.

So I'm just going to be okay with that. That's my resolution: I'm giving myself a break.

Because when I make lists of five billion things to do on my days off, there's no time for this.

(Can you find Lulu?)

And although I'd love to keep enthralling you with my bowling metaphors, instead I am going to veg out on the couch with my man and hope for snowflakes tonight. Because there's no list for tomorrow and I am feeling pretty darn good about that.

In other words, I'm going to go enjoy my spare time.

(Sorry! Couldn't help myself.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

On Being a TV Watching Elitist Snob

I came home from open gym with the kids last week to find Brent in rare form. He was all fired up about Comcast raising their rates and wanting to stick it to the man and suddenly there was a dishsomethingorother truck in front of the house and somebody drilling a hole through our living room wall and some other dude up on the roof and then instantly we have CABLE!

Cable? That doesn't sound much like us, does it?

But I guess it's some freebee deal that we have to cancel in a month but we'll still get the low rate and blah blah blah... for now we have cable! Woohoo! TV! And why am I so excited about tv? Because tv time is knitting time! Here's Sawyer's hat:

Pretty cute, eh? Except that it totally doesn't fit because I started deceasing WAAAY too early for that kid's big old head. Oh well, live and learn. I still have three weeks of cable left.

It's January and for some strange reason it's not raining. This is weird, but cool. Kind of like how Sawyer rides his bike.

Lately I've been trying unsuccessfully not to freak out about sending Jack to kindergarten next year. Eugene does a really awesome/terrible thing by allowing school choice and the application deadline is coming right up. Believe me, I have always been a supporter of neighborhood schools and I continue to have faith in public education, HOWEVER my kid is my kid. And if I had a different kid than Jack, the school choice issue might be nonexistent. He begs us to make worksheets for him. He's obsessed with spelling and the difference between uppercase and lowercase letter. He thinks reading is the most magical and amazing thing ever. And here he is spending his free time studying for the SAT.

I am pretty sure our neighborhood school would eat him alive. And so we prepare to step into rank with the elitist, educated Eugene parents who schlep their kids across town to the "good" schools. The whole thing leaves kind of a bad taste in my mouth, who the hell am I to think my kid is too good for the school down the street? But then again, he is my kid. And maybe it's okay to be an elitist when it comes to the education of your own kids. (??)

And then there's this one to consider. Whatever will we do with him?

Jack was invited to his BFF's birthday party and the invitation specifically said homemade or recycled gifts only. Oh boy, do I love to see that! After much discussion Jack and I determined that a homemade Snoopy pillow would fit the bill and so we brought out the little Singer and away he went.

Jack had such a good time at the birthday party and I had a few quiet moments to watch him interacting with other kids and playing his little heart out. He is sweet and gentle and kind. He loves to run with the pack and to be a part of the action. But he's also the kid who takes a few minutes to sit with his mom and talk about the logistics of the game. His little wheels are always spinning.

Three was pretty rough on us all, but four has been good. I am really excited for five.

But then as I sat chatting with another mom, there was a catastrophic collision and suddenly Jack was crumpled on the floor and sobbing inconsolably. He's not usually much of a crier when it comes to injuries and the adults who had seen the crash reported that he was hit pretty hard. The gym wanted to fill out an accident report and I tried really hard to keep my cool but I kind of started to panic when they started talking about head injuries. And Jack was limp and sweaty and crying on my shoulder about wanting to go home, which is really not like him at all. And so I hightailed it out of there with Jack on my hip and worry in my step. By the time we got out to the car I was convinced that something was wrong. A head injury? This is scary stuff. I put him into his seat and drove straight to Urgent Care. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, Jack perked up and demanded to know where we were and promptly informed me that NO WAY IN HELL was he getting out of that car. At that moment I entertained the possibility that he was just fine.

But it's so hard to know with these kids. I question myself all the time. It seems like some of this stuff would come more naturally, you know? Two weeks ago I took the kids to see a 20 minute movie about winter constellations at the planetarium and when Sawyer became hysterical during the preview (it was kind of scary!) it became clear that we would have to leave. But Jack didn't want to go. He wasn't scared, why should he have to miss the movie? I followed my first instinct which, oddly enough, was to leave him in the theater with the seemingly benign dad and kid sitting next to us. And then Sawyer and I spent 20 minutes in the lobby while I freaked out about the fact that I had just left my kid in a dark movie theater with a PERFECT STRANGER. Who cares if his kid had glow in the dark socks? He could have been a serial killer!

Deep down, though, I knew he'd be fine. Because he's my kid and you know your kid. He walked out of that theater with a proud smile twenty minutes later and told me all about the winter sky. And so in the parking lot of Urgent Care, I decided to just go home. To cuddle with Jack on the couch, to offer an ice pack, to tell him again how sorry I was that he got hurt, and to watch some Scooby Doo. Because we've got to enjoy this cable while we can.

And knowing my kid also means that I'm going to sit through a bunch of elementary school open houses in the next month so I can at least try to find the best fit for him, because following that instinct has been working out pretty well so far. Also, cable will be gone by then and I'm sure I'll be able to get some knitting done.

Wish us luck.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Twenty Twelve

Before we talk about New Years and our rockin' good time out and about with NO CHILDREN and the subsequent waking up to a silent house with, again, NO CHILDREN to have a peaceful breakfast without interruptions like demands for orange juice and fights over the VERY SPECIAL ORANGE PLATE (a plate whose specialness must be in the eyes of the beholder because it appears to be a plain, ordinary fu*cking plate, but what the hell do I know?), let's talk about iPhones for a minute.

I think I want one.

And you want me to have one, too, because if I did have one, you'd be watching a video of a real live Cabbage Patch doll dressed from head to toe in purple and playing the jazz harp. THE JAZZ HARP! How many times have you seen a person play the jazz harp? Yep, that's what I thought. Clearly I need an iPhone.

Also, I'd have more New Years pictures than this one:

(I did briefly commandeer Brent's iPhone for part of the evening and got a few shots of the festivities while sending some snarky texts on his oblivious behalf, but hell if I know how to get them uploaded and I am pretty sure Brent is not going to help me do this because it's THE ROSE BOWL and OMG! STOP THE WORLD! GO DUCKSSSSSSSS! KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY IPHONE AND LET ME YELL AT THE TV IN PEACE!)

Thus, I believe an iPhone might be coming my way. For the sake of my marriage AND for the jazz harp.

Here's my latest knitting project:

This hat it for Sawyer since he is the second boy and never ever gets anything new. So here, kid! So what if your brother has the most expensive Legos money can buy! A homemade hat! You'll be the envy of all your preschool peers!

And no, we won't be seeing a picture of the first hat because it is so pathetic that I have to ask one of my friends if it's too ugly to give to our neighbor as a baby gift. I think it might be, but I need a second opinion. Maybe it's not so ugly? Maybe the neighbor has bad taste and will think it is cute? You never know.

I love this self striping yarn and can't wait to see this on Sawyer, but I am somewhat terrified to switch to the double pointed knitting needles, so wish me luck with that. Perhaps I need some liquid courage? Irish coffees, anyone?

And because today is the last day of my winter break (wah!) we decided to cram in one last dog walking hurrah and catch the morning sun before the clouds took over. As we stuffed the kids into the car Sawyer protested, "But Mom! I don't want to get any fresh air!"

Once we unloaded they all frolicked and giggled and threw rocks and found treasures and scared away the birds by splashing in the icy water.

And I breathed in the fresh air and watched as the sky opened up to blue and closed to grey again and saw everyone exploring off in different directions and thought about January and the fresh start that each new year affords us and felt happy, grateful, and optimistic.

Because it does seem to be off to a good start, doesn't it? And twenty twelve just sounds nice to me. So here's to a happy happy new year and lots of knitted hats and walks with dogs and evenings out with friends. (And maybe, just maybe, some jazz harp. You never know!)