Monday, April 28, 2014

They can't wait to be bigger... and bigger... and bigger.


Kai yells to me from upstairs, from the top bunk. It's 9:30, long past the time he should have gone to sleep. I rush up, not-so-secretly thrilled that he's summoning me. I've observed that boys in this house—at age three—tend not to prefer me. They want Olin. All the time. The first time around, the rejection was unbearable. Physically painful. But after seeing Jules circle back to me in the last year, I'm handling the Mama-disses better. Taking them (slightly) less personally. Still, when Kai calls for me, there is a joy-surge. No matter the time. Even if it's because he's peed the bed. But that wasn't the case tonight.

Turns out, Kai called me up to tell me that he's going to be four. On his birthday—which is this Friday, May 2. Blows my mind. (Cliche.) I want to freeze time. (Super cliche). In part because when I snuggle in close with him like I did tonight, he wiggles his little chicken-wing shoulders in an exaggerated show of contentment. In part because he tells me—slurring, thanks to the left thumb he sleepily still sucks: "You're the best mamma in the whole, wide world."

But mostly because he says funny shit all the time. Like today in the car when I ask what he wanted for his special birthday dinner and he answered, "Broccoli. And water. And cauliflower." This from the kid who loves dessert. And starchy carbs. And, well, it's true: vegetables and water.

Or like yesterday, when I returned home from a friend's baby shower, and he greeted me at the door.
"Mama, you're not wet."
"You said you were taking a baby shower."
OMG. It's the stuff you read on the back pages of parenting magazines—but even funnier, live in the moment.

Jules, who will be six on Monday, has been cracking my shit up lately too. I'd almost go so far as to call his comebacks witty. (Six-year-old "witty.") And eavesdropping on his conversations with Kai are the BEST. Tonight in the tub:

"Kai." [He's very bossy. Read all of the punctuation properly to understand his delivery.]
"KAI. You can't drink the bath water."
[Kai says nothing.]
"KAI. You've been sitting in it. With your butt. [pause] Crack. [pause] That's where poop comes out. [pause] So don't drink that water." 
Perhaps I shouldn't admit it in the context of that just-shared convo, but I totally want these days to keep repeating again and again forever and forever (cliche, cliche, cliche). Do all parents approach every birthday with feelings of bittersweet that parallel the kids' party-pinata-and-cake excitement? And do all kids just "want to get bigger and bigger and bigger"—as Kai told me was his wish, as I nostalgically tucked him in tonight?

I'm gonna guess yes.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

That one-on-one-kid commute is PRODUCTIVE.

I basically moved to kill my commute. Now that it's significantly shorter—and the part with the kid(s) is just as long, it's become one of my favorite parts of my day. Partly because I've been trained as a journalist and, when I have a captive interviewee in the car, I do some of my best work. Like today. Through some skillful investigative journalism, I uncovered two important facts.

Fact #1: My kid got kicked out of gym class. 
Interview transcript
Me: How was school?
Kid (unnamed): Great.
Me: How was gym?
Kid: Good.
Me: So you listened to Mrs. O.? (hint: question asked because the answer isn't always yes)
Kid: Yes.
Me: What'd you play?
Kid: We played relays.
Me: Like running relays?
Kid: Yes.
Me: Did you pass a baton or tag hands?
Kid: What?
Me: How did the next person know when to go?
Now, I will spare you the entire transcript of discovering who was on his team, where he fell in line, some other minor details. I will just jump to the good part. 
Kid: And E and I visited Georgine (if your kid goes to my kids' school, you may know who Georgine is) for the gym class. And we played puzzles after we wrote our apology note to Mrs. O.
Me: What? You went to the Planning Room?  Did this happen at the end of class?
Kid: No.
Me: I thought you did relays in gym class today.
Kid: It was at the second gym class. We just visited Georgine and, after we wrote our apology letter, we played puzzles while the other kids went outside.
Me: What was the apology note for?
Kid: It was for an apology. (Said with absolutely no sarcasm. Completely earnest.)
Me: No, I mean what did it say?
Kid: It just said I apologize; we didn't say for what.
Me: Well why did you go to Georgine's?
Kid: Because we were looking into another gym class.
Me: Through a door?
Kid: No. We were laying on the floor, looking through a crack.
Me: Oh. Could you see anything?
Kid: Yes, we could see feet.
Me: And was this really worth it? To see other people's feet—if it meant you had to go to the Planning Room instead of playing outside?
Kid: We had fun, too. We got to play puzzles.
Note: We did have a conversation about being respectful—but only after my interview yielded all of the information I need for the complete (albeit one-sided) story. Also, if you want to provide an unpleasant consequence for my child, don't offer an excused absence from physical activity.

And speaking of one-sided stories...

Fact #2: Julian's class is covering nutrition.
Opinion: I may need to volunteer my services.

Interview transcript
Jules: Oils are are bad for your body. (This on the heels of him telling me last week that "if you eat fat every day it's bad for your body." Which I corrected.)
Me: Actually, Jules, some oils are healthy. Like the olive oil I use when I cook vegetables is actually good for your body. Are you talking about nutrition at school?
Jules: Yes!
Me (now playing the part of a nutritionist as well as a reporter): Do you know what the healthiest foods are?
Jules: Um...
Me: What about vegetables and fruits?
Jules: Yes! Those are good for your body. What about cheese?
Me: Yes, cheese has some things that are good for your body. Do you know what?
Jules: It's made with milk.
Me: Yes! And milk has calcium. And calcium helps make your bones strong.
Jules: There's good calcium and bad calcium and sometimes the good calcium kills the bad calcium.
Me: I think you might be confused. Who told you that?
Jules: Teachers.

Of course, he's only 5. It's easy to confuse nutrition science. But it seems I have some further reporting to do.

Monday, April 14, 2014

75 degrees is sunny

We came home from work and school, and it was light. It was warm. We ate a dinner quick to prepare: cheese omelets with shredded zucchini sautéed in garlic; roasted potatoes made yesterday, rewarmed; vinegary coleslaw. All veggies CSA sourced. And, in that way, our dinner selection was somewhat forced. (I am ready for summer's bounty—or at least more spring spinach.) 

We cleared the table enough to put dirty plates out of reach of the pets (not that the cats haven't ever jumped on the counters) and went outside in flip-flops and bare feet. We flew planes, pushed swings, dug dirt, played lacrosse and acted out Power Ranger situations. We chatted with neighbors on both sides of the fence. It was a sweet evening, light and warm.

Tomorrow, I hear, it may snow.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Take them to the grocery store, just don't call it an efficient shopping trip.

Here's what my list reads: avocados, snap peas, clementines, tomatoes, strawberries, ground turkey, milk, cheese, almond milk, almonds, coffee, mac 'n cheese, canned peaches, granola bars

Here's what my receipt shows: Smart Puffs, fifteen bucks' worth of granola bars (3 boxes), Sea Salt Talenti gelato, frozen broccoli, cheese, almond milk, a Cucina Antica frozen pizza (for another night like this), whole-wheat English muffins, a green Camel-Bak water bottle, a $5.95 magazine that I bought because it had MC Yogi on the cover, a discount for remembering my bags, a $2 donation to the Humane Society.

Why the discrepency? These two:

It's been a hectic week so I told myself that was I going to take the easy way out tonight—by heading to Healthy Living for a healthy dinner, bribing the kids with the promise of some ice cream as a take-home treat (see above: Talenti) and then doing a short bit of efficient grocery shopping with two gratefully obedient helpers. This is actually how I explained the plan to a friend, who'd suggested that the three of us join her and her son (the boys' good pal) in grabbing a bite for dinner. 

How soon we forget. What happened was this*: 

5:58 pm: Arrive at store
5:58 - 6:02 pm: Cart shuffling and shouting about who will push the cart; we grab two carts
6:02 - 6:04 pm: Two small boys push two mini carts in two different directions, both of which include glass bottles
6:04 pm: One cart is returned (as close to the "do not enter" [from this way] automatic doors as possible); sorry to whoever had to actually return it... but, trust me, the alternative would have been worse
6:05 - 6:09 pm: I chat with an old friend in the gadget aisle; Kai becomes obsessed with a green Camel-bak water bottle
6:10 pm: Too weak to deal with an all-out tantrum, I tell Kai he can carry the water bottle through the store
6:11 - 6:15 pm: Bathroom break #1 (chronologically and otherwise)
6:15 - 6:20 pm: Select dinner - chicken and rice, carrots and corn + fruit salad for the boys; tofu, kale and roasted beets/turnips for me. 
6:20 - 6:35 pm: Pay for and eat dinner (Jules and Nicci)
6:35 - 6:50 pm: Nicci and Jules play number-guessing games while watching Kai finish his dinner, more slowly than anyone has ever eaten 7 grains of rice before
6:50 - 6:55 pm: Bakery selections made (both include chocolate + peanut butter)
6:55 pm - 7:00 pm: Jules finishes half of his Magic Bar; bags the second half to save for dad
7:00 pm - 7:15 pm: Kai licks layers of peanut butter and chocolate icing, then continues to smash and smear chocolate cupcake all over his face, the table and the chair
7:15 - 7:20 pm: Clean up! Compost, recycle, trash review. 
7:20 - 7:30 pm: Bathroom break #2 (chronologically and otherwise). Over the stall door, Kai yells, "I love you, Mom!" no fewer than four times. 
7:30 - 7:42 pm: Haphazard and hurried shopping, with me saying yes to 40% of items proposed, 99% of which are unnecessary. 
7:42 - 7:45 pm: Checkout. I pay for all items, including the surprises (the green water bottle I thought we'd put back, the extra two boxes of granola bars) and yoga mag I tossed in the bag as a relaxing reward for not losing my shit while shopping. We donate $2 to the Humane Society after Julian shuffles the lot of cards with cute cats on them. 

En route home, Jules says, "what a fun adventure!" Kai agrees: "Yeah, that was an adVENTURE! And we must almost be to Grandma's house because it feels like a long trip. It's mostly dark outside."


*All times approximate

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I'm more grateful ... even if I AM a cranky bitch.

I've been a cranky bitch lately but I gotta give myself credit where credit is due: I'm a lot more grateful for life's simple pleasures than I was, say, 10 years ago. Three examples:

I felt lucky as hell to have a private yoga session at lunch. I wasn't going to go to yoga today—too much to get done—but a meeting was wrapping up just a few minutes before I had to run down the hall (how freaking lucky is that) to the class, if I was going to do it. Then I realized that today was the last day for my unlimited pass (read: "free" class) so I went for it. And—no doubt because it was 50 degrees and beautiful today—I was the only student who showed up. Jane read an piece by Pema Chodron (it included  "dog poop" - awesome) and then led us through a invigorating flow. She  helped me figure out how to get into a headstand, balancing on my forearms instead of my hands. It was super fun.

My friend Holly bought me the sweet vintage apron (hanging over my face) a decade ago.
I wear it to wash dishes because I'm super messy. 

I was totally psyched to get my hair trimmed. When to comes hair changes, I'm usually not satisfied with subtle. (This once led to a major hair disaster 2 weeks before my wedding.) Again and again, I grow it long mostly so I can lop it off into a pixie. Total makeover. Dopamine rush. Before that I started that cycle, I used to have Nathan streak it with shades that varied from high-contrast blonde to crayon red. I aim for a high-impact change. But right now I'm  growing it out so all I got was a trim—which usually just leaves me bored. Tonight, I was just happy to hang with Hannah. And I do have less of mullet than I did at 5:59.

I'm actually digging an evening work session. Even though I generally love what I do for work, second-shift sessions can be a drag. Tonight, though, while I type in this room (taking some time to procrastinate by writing this post), Olin is working on his computer in the next one. The Clash is on the radio. I'm sipping chai and eating chocolate. He's drinking Dogfish. We took a time-out so I could show him my new headstand—and he could one-up me with his fancy side crow. Whatever, dude.