Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Challenging Child

Coyote still holds the above mentioned title. His prenatal days were a medical drama of misinformed doctors. He bawled throughout his infancy. He shrieked through the first month of day care (at 2 ½!). Then there were his seizures, the hospitalization, and the life threatening allergies.

And now this: Potty Training.

Now before you whip out your favorite theory, pet method, super-nanny episode number, and best book on the topic let me tell you this: there is nothing you can say that I haven't tried over the past year and a half. If you think that there is, you are WRONG.

I waited until he was 3, because he is a boy. So I thought I'd give him a year to mature before we started with topics like aim, aiming, and aim. We started out mellow and low key: no rewards (the method that worked fairly well with Blue), just putting your garbage where it belongs. After a few unsuccessful months, the potty demands of Montessori school fast approaching, I upped the ante to treats. And this is where the games began.

We had some success with M&M's and timed potty breaks. This is the "potty-training in a day" method. After several WEEKs, Coyote quit, saying, "I don't really like candy anymore." We upped the rewards: bigger candy, movies at the theater, movies at home. And eventually they all met the same fate: "I don't really like that anymore, so I'm just going to sit here and pee."

Then we tried just leaving him in it, to marinate in the ickiness of his own choices, as suggested by many “experts”. He didn't care at all. In fact, it turned out that I'd have to tackle him and change him while he yelled, "I LIKE my poopy pants! They're GREAT!"

So then we switched to detractive methods. Time outs were first. After a few weeks he began announcing, "Thanks for the Time out! I just love time outs!" So I switched the time outs to my room, "I like time out in your room better, mom!" Then we went to NO DVD for a day with every accident. After a month, I really needed some down time to clean my house and he had forgotten all about DVD's.

One idea that sealed the deal with Blue was to let her bring her potty anywhere in the house she wanted, so she wouldn't really have to interrupt herself. Coyote has refused to even look at a training potty, much less sit on one. When we pulled it out, he just looked at us like we were nuts. No one else sits on that, why would he?

Training videos: done that. Training books: still a favorite bedtime fairy-tale. Fancy unders: got 'em.

I then brought him to the doctor to get his plumbing checked out. It's fine, apparently. The problem is in his DNA. As I understand it, the second X chromosome is missing its right leg. It's fairly common in about 50% of humans. It's not curable. It’s called XY Chromosomal Disorder, and it means he's a boy.

At this point the house went on the market, we were moving, and with all the commotion, we just decided to give up for a few months. Even if we'd accomplish anything, it would all be undone by the typical upheaval response of young children: potty reversal.

But now that we're settled a little more, we've decided to go through the methods again and hope that one of them catches this time. So, we just finished two weeks of the timer method. TWO WEEKS! This is another method that’s billed at Potty-training-in-a-day. He's got a Pavlovian response now: he hears any sort of alarm, anywhere, and he goes potty. But it's not been all that successful, when, say, no alarm goes off for an hour. And we have large items that aren't being covered here: large, brown and squishy items.

So now we're trying M&M's again. Two browns for #2 in the potty. And any color for pee.

While pressing some of our cider (41 gallons going hard right now!), Coyote claimed he'd pooped his pants and it was dribbling down his legs. No one wanted to check, least we contaminate the goods with fecal matter. We were tired from cranking and grinding and pressing. So we grumpily packed everything up, washed it all down and jetted home to deal with our errant eliminator. We get home: nothing. No poop. It was a joke! So we put him in the tub anyway, cuz he's dirty. And then he poops, in the tub.

The other day, first thing, he poops his unders. And then he says to me in utter surprise, totally incredulous, "I thought I was supposed to be potty trained!"

Is it sacrilegious to pray for divine poop intervention? Is god, if indeed there is, a god of elimination as well as consumption? To whom do I send my plea of "Uncle"?

Coyote can be cute. And I better remind myself of that right here: when doing paper crafts, he likes me to “stample” things together. And today, he and Huck made an apple pie. Coyote decided he was a “bakery” and this was his pie-slash-skateboarding school. (Marble school starts at 2:30, FYI.) And everything had an instructional play-by-play to it which was induplicatably cute. We don’t have TV, therefore no food channel, so I have no idea where this came from. Focusing on the CUTE helps me refrain from planning Nebraskaas the next family vacation destination.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Can I forgive myself? Do I need to?

I you were a cheerleader, please don't read this.

I sent Blue off to CHEER CAMP on Friday. She really wanted to go. Some of her friends from school were going. And, I thought, why not? After all, when I was in 5th grade, I cheered with my cousins and sister and screamed for the Bellingham Red Raiders to win, red and white pompoms in hand. We four made solemn pacts to some day become cheerleaders for the Raiders. We HAD to. WE WOULD. We KNEW it. And in the end, none of us came within a mile of it. None of us even considered it.

Well, maybe I did. As a sophomore, I tried out for Mat Maids, the wrestling cheerleaders. Not that I liked wrestling or understood it or found it anything less than totally retarded. But those cheerleaders were different. Not as obedient as the drill team. Not as stupid as the actual cheerleaders. I wept for days when my name was not on that list. It wasn't just not making Mat Maids, it was my chronic failure to make anything in that high school, to do anything well. And it was my habitual negative self talk too. Not making Mat Maids meant that my whole life (all 15 years) was a total failure. It meant that my future was doomed (perhaps it still is). All that thankfully changed with a new school.
That's my big cheer confession.

Anyway, we went to the football game that night to watch her in the half time show. On the way there I told her, "You know sometimes people make assumptions about cheerleaders. But when you're a cheerleader, your job is just to lead the crowd in cheers and to get them excited. You have to be excited yourself, and brave too, to stand in front of the crowd (in a very short skirt) and be happy when no one else is."
Blue zeroed in on the negative, "What assumptions do people make about cheerleaders?"
Me, awkwardly, "That they're stupid. Basically." Did I phrase that well, or what! "But you can be smart and be a cheerleader. That can happen."

The energy was electric. It's been 18 years since my last high school football game, and it was exactly the same. I was surprised by the power that the scene had to yank me back into the past. Three gigantic memories plagued me to distraction. They happened at the football games. And they profoundly shaped me. It was like I was there again. And these ghosts were there. I felt haunted and obsessed for an hour and a half!

And then there were the cheerleaders. They had all clearly spent at least 2 hours on their appearance. Curlers, make-up, tanning, blah blah blah. I mean, WHO spends that much time on their looks?! Except on Prom night or your wedding day, or whatever, I can understand. But it's an F-ing HIGH SCHOOL football game! And that old question arose in my mind again, unbidden, unexpected, but so relevant: "Don't you have anything better to do?" And then that's where the stereotype comes in, because the answer is "NO." If you're putting on make up for that long, you don't have time to read, to be informed, to develop any other part of your personality. You are a face and hair, because there's no time to be anything else.

Okay, they were nice, they were sweet, and I'm sure they were, some of them, intelligent. But intelligence just isn't the basket into which they are putting many eggs.

However some of the other campers were INSANE! Think "Little Miss Sunshine: the other girls" insane. They were needy basket-cases with make-up smeared all over. Luckily that wasn't the whole vibe. Soledad was Blue's friend there and they were normal kids, just having a good time, not trying to grow up too fast.

And then they went out to the field. And here I was video taping this, bursting with pride. Blue (on the far right) was off on everything, except she got a few pompom shakes in at the right time. She was so freaking cute out there. And she wants to do it again. Groan.

Huck explained it to some shocked friends like this, "You just want your kids to be happy, to be involved with something they love and something they feel enthusiastic about." Isn't that what life's about? the stoke? And how could you deny that to someone you love? Why would you want to? Even though it's WAY WAY FAR AWAY from what you like. There's nothing WRONG with leading cheers, is there?

There's the risk, of course, that she will only develop that part of her: the face, the hair, the cheer. But if this whole venture can be mainly about the stoke, the enthusiasm, then that's something I want her to learn how to feel, to know, and to pursue in life.

I'm probably over thinking it, right? I could probably use a little less brain and more hair and face, maybe?

Otherwise: we helped my parents move from Spokane to Salem, OR. They are attempting to buy a foreclosed house in Salem, but that's going haywire now. Several banks are involved and uncooperative. And it turns out there's a seller and real estate agent love triangle also complicating things...Oh MY! But they're in the moving van now, and they may just have to stay there for a while. It's the end of an era of excellent free babysitting. And lots of good times with my parents.

About the BLOG: OOPS! I picked a blog where no one can comment unless they have their own blog. I do not hang with chronic bloggers (no one I currently know actually has a blog), so there's no one around to make a lot of comments, which leaves me sometimes feeling like no one's reading. On the other hand, this means that ya'll have to e-mail me directly and this is working out beautifully, as I actually get to have two way relationships with people, despite and perhaps because of my blog. And I love that.

And, I can't believe I started a blog at this point in my life. Don't normal people have the impetus to blog when things are GREAT, or at least when they've got it all figured out? And here I am, in a really deep trough in my life and times, blogging. It's just a weird period of time where things have gone off in their own direction that I didn't plan, nor do I approve of.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

X-actly what I wanted!

After 6 months of deliberation I charged forward with a major purchase today: a desk mounted pencil sharpener. Have you used one recently? Whizz, zoom, snap and SHARP! We've had these tiny little plastic things populating (and repopulating) our house, but their job is apparently to break off the lead the second it's exposed. So, after months of fantasizing, I finally accomplished my dream! Within minutes, the holes in our computer desk were drilled, and then I went to TOWN! I got all 5,378 broken pencils in our house and I gleefully sharpened each to Samari-pleasing points. Our little tin box with Blue-inked dutch children ice-skating the canals is now a full arsenal of weapons-grade pencils. Even the colored ones. It was depressing, sitting around my house, glaring at all the useless pencil tips, seeking in vain for a pencil to write with, aching to provide my children with all the joys of colored pencils. And now! Success! Joy! Glee!

Easily amused? INDEED! If you aren't easily amused in this world, you're never going to be amused.

As a little addendum to this episode. I installed it backwards. On accident. But now it's great for lefties! And you just have to crank it backwards. Clearly, it's MY pencil sharpener. But I would have installed it backwards on purpose, if I'd known, because I AM a Lefty, and our brains, like our pencil sharpeners, work better backwards anyway.

Speaking of canal skating dutch children... The other day I was wondering about all the irrigation here. In the extremely unlikely event that all 11,000 area damns were to suddenly become electrically barren, how would the apple trees survive? So, I asked myself, aloud, what if you could use some other form of energy to pump that water? Maybe wind? Seems like wind should easily, mechanically, pump the water. Huck was nearby, overhearing my externalize internal dialog. I wondered then, if maybe something like windmills could pump water, so I turned to Huck and asked, "Do you think wind mills could pump the irrigation water?" And he responded, with as little laughter as he could, "Do you think it's any coincidence that a dutch girl like you suddenly had that brilliant idea?" Okay, it wasn't so original, but it's a GREAT idea! Time tested, in fact!

A Post Script about the Barter Fair: the trucks that cleaned out the outhouses every night bore this message, "Yesterday's Meals On Wheels." EEEWE!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Barber Hair, WOHOOOO!

We took the plunge! We chugged ourselves and our cider press and 650 pounds of organic apples up to Tonasket to the Okanogan Family Faire. Four days of wackiness ensued. Memories commonly described as "unforgettable" and "amazing" were made.

The line to get in launched the adventure with original characters, double decker purple buses, hot pink buses named Floyd, an intricate wooden gypsy wagon, a rasta-painted, portable wood fired pizza oven, etc, etc.

We had studied the map thoroughly. We had asked many a veteran where to set up camp. We'd avoid the main stage and the drum circle, we knew. But once we got there, everything was different in person. So we asked an official by the gate, "Where's Youthtopia?" Which is where we figured we wanted to be: by the playground, the water, the first aide teepee. He directed us. But as we drove off, we heard him yell at someone else, "What the Hell is Youthtopia?" And that was our introduction to the quirky ways of Barter Fair.

All turned around, we finally found a spot next to some people we'd met in line. They had a 7 year old that Blue had played with, so it seemed like a good idea to set up next to them.
"So, what spots are you taking?"
"These two."
"What about that spare on one the other side?"
"We're saving that for a friend. You're technically not supposed to, but we are."
The rule isn't a technicality. It's a respect for those that got up at 5 am to get there. Then Terra says, "And we'll need 5 feet of your space too. Hope that's okay!"
No. It wasn't. I didn't need all my space, but I wasn't going to let her save a space and take mine. If she needed five feet, she could get it from her lazy ass friend. So that set us off on the right foot. I was put on alert that our neighbor was a USER and we weren't going to be friends. I'll end up feeling used and angry if I don't pick friends that are at least somewhat careful to not ask too much of me. By the end of the weekend it was obvious that the second generation of that crew was catching the drift, demanding cider and extra cups all weekend. Sweet girl she had, but she was quickly learning her mother's method of interaction. Her daughter even told someone they didn't Need to buy our cider because she could just get it from us for free. So I sadly cut her off that gravy train. I love to be generous, but not used.

Huck noted that with such a free situation, so few social expectations and rules, it was interesting to watch what people did. There were those that tried to get a lot for a little, take rather than give. And then there were those who felt freed up to be extra generous.

Turned around as we'd gotten we ended up near the drum circle. Who knew that's what it was!? When we arrived it was just an empty grassy area with a fire pit in the middle. Drumming started at 6 pm and went on until 6 am. EVERY NIGHT. With fire spinning and screaming. ALL NIGHT LONG. Right outside our tent. By the third night, I was used to it, and almost slept! People yell "Barter Fair" and then everyone screams. Huck started yelling, "Barber Hair!" and I occasionally let loose with a little screaming. It's a weird tradition.

Barter fair can be divided into two parts: day and night. Day is fun, happy, kid friendly. Night is a drug induced freak show.

During the day, the place was paradise, with all the potential of human interactions at their peak. Whatever drawbacks our placement there had, one of the irrefutable benefits was being within sight and earshot of the playground. We could just look up and check on our kids. After setting up for a while, I went over to the playground to see that they were indeed as okay as they looked. And that is when I met my kids' favorite, non-related person ever to grace the planet: Life Has Meaning. Even without the impressive name, this woman is amazing. In fact, some of us have to get beyond the name to find her amazing. She is an old, white haired lady, with the most relaxed and pure face I've ever seen. She dresses in all unbleached natural fibers. So she's like an off-white angel. She asked just a few perfect questions which caused me to pretty much immediately spill the whole teary mess of our current situation to her. And then Huckleberry showed up to see how things were going and they got talking. And for the rest of the weekend Life Has Meaning was networking for us. Powerful people were coming to our booth all weekend, saying "Life Has Meaning said I need to talk to you." Who knows what will come of it all, if anything.

Our booth turned out to be the main play station for kids of all ages. We had the cider press and the kids all loved cranking that thing for a cup of cider. We had three of the world's best boys at our booth the entire time. They were 9 and 10. Ashton, Kai and Chris. They loved Coyote and I even let them take him for bartering walks all over the place (there were 15,000 or so people there!).

Blue played with three other 7 year old girls the entire weekend. And we were worried the kids would be bored! HA! Fat chance!

That first night, for some unknown reason, Blue puked all over her sleeping bag. So that was gross. Then we were down a bag. The last night there it got to the mid 20's. We just wrapped her up in all the coats we had and tossed a blanket over her. She was warmer than any of us.

Behind us was Ruby's Real Root Beer. Ruby is from Eugene, OR and has been doing this for years. He loved our quality product. And was really stoked to see us doing it "right." Lots of people just go there and lay down a blanket, cover it in junk and call that a booth. Other cider presses were there. But they had low quality apples and the presses were moldy and old. So he loved our booth and us. And he gave me several of the world's best root beer floats, made from scratch. Now, some of you may know that Root Beer Floats are my current version of Communion, the Sacrament. To partake of a Root Beer Float is to know God. In fact, that is my new name for God: RBF. "Dear RBF, please help! Thanks." So, you can imagine that Ruby was one of my favorite people there. And he had amazing food too.

The wood fired pizza guy was also a good one. With the world's BEST pizza. He'd been doing the fair for 17 years. We got along great with him too. Also, Ruth Isreal was good to do business with. She's a tiny dred-locked old lady from the Love Isreal tribe. I finally met the famous local wild edible guru: Skeeter. He was thrilled to trade the world's most beautiful and perfect Hubbard Squash for several of my wild edible cards. And I was flattered into shocked silence. He also asked if I'd be interested in doing illustrations for his wild edible books. So I was doubly flattered. He's also one of my brother's closest friends, so that was fun to introduce myself at the end as Matt's sister. Matt was also there, as an old salt veteran. We all adore him, and I felt honored to have him bless my site with his presence. I was so excited he was there! And then he finally said, "What would you be doing if I wasn't here? Okay, so just do that." And I calmed down and had some lunch. I met his new girlfriend, a dead ringer for a woman we used to know named Elsie. She was easily lovable, energetic, and compassionate.

90% of the people there had dredlocks. So that felt comfy for Huck.

The best thing about the fair was meeting people. Here, in Wenatchee, I see familiar faces and our conversations always begin, "So, do you know if you get to stay or not?" On the one hand, it's a nice question, because, I try to tell myself, they Want me to stay. They wish I was staying. It's important to them. On the other hand it's an annoying and almost offensive question that can sound like "I'm not going to talk to you unless you're staying." Which isn't very thoughtful or inviting. Staying or not, I still need friends. It's a question that can feel like it's more about them than about me and it leaves a bad taste.

But here, no one wanted to know that. No one was staying. We were all there to enjoy the moment. To have real conversations. To be kind. To love. And nearly every conversation reflected that.

Another cool thing was that I knew lots of people there! Yeah! Lots of folks from the Unitarian church and from Bruce's farm and from Pullman/Moscow area. So I actually didn't feel like a total "out-cider", not like one could feel that way for long there anyway.

Being near the first aid teepee probably provided a skewed view of the events. I'm sure it made the place seem wilder than it really was. They mostly dealt with bad acid trips, and a few slivers. The only first aid facility I've ever seen manned by a psychologist!

For the record: acid, meth, heroine, cocaine, ecstasy, etc were all VERY discouraged there. Though present, the organizers were working hard to root it out, even launching their own under-cover stings. We did find it necessary, however, to taste test all the cookies and brownies our kids bought. No problems were found, happily.

But on the second night we had two girls invade our campsite to work through their bad trip. I was almost asleep when I heard voices WAY too close. So I took out my ear plugs. And sure enough there were two girls yelling right next to my ears. So I said loudly, "Wow, sure wish I could sleep, but I can't because there are these people yelling outside my tent!" Didn't make a dent in their conversation. So I got out of bed. There they were, literally, 6 inches from our tent, absolutely in our campsite. Yelling about their bad trip. So I said, hands on hips, "Sounds like you're having a really intense conversation here. I want you to have a good trip and all, but you need to get out of my campsite." They just looked at me, no IDEA what was going on. So I inflated myself a little and yelled, "YOU NEED TO GET OUT OF MY CAMPSITE NOW!" Being a mom, I almost gave them to the count of five. But they got the point and skeedaddled.

The first night, we got tipsy on the neighbors bootleg wine (the other neighbors sold "Rasta Pasta"). But by the second night I realized that especially at night, I would need all of my mental faculties fully available on a moment's notice. So I didn't have another drop to drink. I didn't smoke anything, which doesn't mean much. Just being within a 10 mile radius of the place, one would inevitably be stoned.

We made about $500, which wasn't as much as we wanted. People said it was a very slow year for purchasing. I bartered away most of my cards. The plant people and gardeners loved them the most. Another artist bought some too.

It was an exhausting adventure. And I loved it. I didn't think I would. But I did. I'm still recovering, so I think I'll go attempt to reclaim some of those three nights of sleep I lost.

P.S.: my birthday turned out to be only slightly better than the year before (you may or may not remember my extended ER visit, where I nearly died of the flu. For those of you who don't know about that, just trust me, I'm not a wimp). At this rate, I'll have a good birthday again around the age of 64. I did get to buy some snazzy new fancy shoes and Huck and I went out for sandwiches. Also, Huck gave me the most beautiful clay leaf platter. Too bad I accidentally found it in the closet a month ago. Coyote gave me a Dollar store wine glass and a calculator. Blue gave me a card on a napkin. And the neighbor girl gave me her tiara, fresh-made, that day, at pre-school.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today is my birthday. I am 33.

It's stunning to look at one whole year, especially this one. Sometimes things bump a long same as always. And sometimes you have a crazy year like this with major changes, major disappointments, and big time upheaval.

Last year at this time, I was looking a year ahead and thinking: Huck with have a great job. We'll be in a new house. In a new town. In a new income bracket. With new purchasing powers (these are apparently a form of super powers, elusive and exclusive).

I was hoping that the year ahead would be a year of (perchance, perhaps!) a return of stability and security, the fruition of all our long, hard work. But then I got a special E-Mail this morning from a horoscope thingy advertising the next five years for those born this day. And this is what it said: lost, aimless wandering, fruitless searches, loss of direction, high probability of alcoholism and drug addiction. And then it went on to say, NOT April Fools! But HAPPY BIRTHDAY! So, I will go find someone else's better horoscope and adopt that one.

My mom and I went for lunch in Leavenworth yesterday, followed by a little light shopping. It was very very fun. The waiter was extremely flirtatious, but you know, I'm used to that sort of thing so I just let him go on and on, while I played it cool, with cream sauce splattered all over my face, as I discovered in the ladies room afterwords. Of course my mom couldn't figure out why anyone would be flirting with me. She thought it was my new glasses. Mom, I wanted to yell, it's cuz I'm f-ing HOT! Obviously!! But, honestly, I think it's cuz he's waiting tables in Leavenworth, Bavarian hotbed of rocking nightlife. I was probably the only person under 50 he'd seen in years.

I bought a polkadot silk neck scarf and a card for myself that said, "I have no Idea what I want, but I won't be satisfied until I get it." Blue wants to know why the lady is smoking on the card. And so do I. Why is smoking a sensual thing? I don't find it any better than a rough cough and a hoarse throat. I decided it was a pen the girl is holding, and she's thinking about what to write next.

Huck bought me flowers and ice cream. And the kids are up to something with secrets tucked here and there around the house. I hope it's a good day. I do love good birthdays so very very much. But if I need to, I'll call for a do-over.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Will miracles never cease?! An addendum

I guess when it rains, it pours. And when you've got time and thoughts, you've got a bus load, so here's my 2nd entry today.

I know what you all are wondering right now: What is Sarajoy drinking? In the interest of celebrity wine endorsement/abasements, let me tell you. Tonight I am drinking a Handyman Red by Working Girl Winery, a Washington State Wine. This fine fine state has many fine fine wines, and fine WATER, apparently. Yes, Working Girl Winery has managed to turn wine into WATER. I took a sip at dinner and thought to myself, "I meant to grab my wine glass, but must have taken my water glass instead." But the evidence was still in hand. Their "robust red" had shriveled to tap water. Or maybe the "handyman" handle was meant to conjure images of the handyman you call, but never shoes up!

Additionally, I wanted to add something more about the challenges of Parenting. The other day the kids got talking about the latest lunch fad: dinosaur shaped tater tots or chicken nuggets or whatever. They begged me for them!
"NO WAY!" I said, cool and calm, as always ;)
"Why not?" And then Blue pulled out the most sophisticated reasoning ever, "All our friends moms are giving them!"
I couldn't help it. I actually laughed. Not cruelly, but with delight, because the argument had absolutely no sway on me and I was about to explain why.
Which went like this: "I have a very good brain on my own two shoulders and I am going to be listening to that. No one, not even my kids, are going to convince me that other people should be thinking for me. I see those dino-whatevers and I can tell by their yellow breading and oily smell that they are not healthy. No One, not even the governor, could convince me otherwise. They aren't healthy and I'm not putting them in your lunches. You can try one, of course, if they are offered, but my good money will only go to healthy items in your lunch. And don't think that I will ever let other kids mom's do my thinking for me. It's just not going to happen. Unless I know exactly who is giving the advise and what their family acts like, I'm not following anything but my own good intuition and brain."

They were probably thinking, "Sheesh, mom, they're just dino-watevers." But I don't think they'll be using that line of "reasoning" on me, at least for a while yet. I had a lot of fun with my monologue. Although emphatic, I was chipper and delighted the entire time I spewed it. Seriously, this explaining the world part of parenting is one of my favorites. And I hope they not only got the idea that I won't be caving to that argument, but also how to think about themselves and their own, good and sturdy brains.

Okay, now I MUST go clean the apartment. One of these days I'm going to post a picture of how messy it gets, just in one day, just so the other moms reading this can feel good about themselves at my expense. I won't mind, I WANT you to feel good about yourself!

The Way Things Are

For those of you not in the know, life gets hectic. Add some kids and no matter how little you try to do, life remains a zooming blur and viola: you don't Blog often.

Yesterday we bought 1200 pounds of apples! ORGANIC! Honeycrisp and Jonnagolds. Huck's new friend Bruce has been an angel: he's letting us store and press at his orchard. And since he provides Stemilt with most of their organic cherries, he bought us these apples for $.225 per pound! We will repay him of course, and hook him up with the hard-cider gravy-train. We've got four carboys now and are working on some used white wine barrels. Friday, we're having a little pressing party with Bruce and his girlfriend. But Huck's so stoked about getting it all set up today that he can't wait and he's begging me to press tomorrow, just a little, just to get the feel. Huck even spent half the day plucking his SECRET INGREDIENT.

Last weekend we headed to Seattle for Huck's Baba's funeral. It was small. She died six months ago (rest assured: no open casket) after 15 years of Alzheimer's which is WAY longer than anyone should have to live with that. That last 5 years she was not present, and was unable to focus her eyes or speak. It was awesome to see Huck's only cousin (on that side) and her new baby, thereby providing the complete, majestic circle of life (in the alternative view, you could find a newborn at a funeral rather depressing: as in "this is what you're working towards, kid"). You may have heard this before, but Huck's cousin is head counsel for Google. Not only that, she and her husband are both very great people to goof around with and talk to. And their baby is pretty much as easy and wonderful as they come, not that any of them are easy. Molly Mehitabel is beautiful and calm, and tempting!

Recipe for impromptu strobe light: place newborn on 7 year-old's lap in room full of tipsy, older relatives with cameras. Flash! Flash! Flash!

We let Blue put blue gel in her hair today. It was her idea. I don't know where she got it but I assume it has to do with kids at school. I ascribe to the parenting ideal: pick your battles wisely. Not that this was shaping up into a battle, because I thought the idea was pretty cute too. Blue's also developed a vocabulary of teen-isms, only she says them all with a Mexican accent! Ohmygo-o-od!

King Louis visited the vet today, who just happened to have graduated from WSU four months ago and we knew lots of the same people. In fact he'd helped our neighbor/vet move! The response when King Louis leaped from his carrier was typical: "OH MY GOD! WHAT A HUGE CAT!" But since he spent 3 + 2 weeks missing, he'd lost 5 pounds. He's not blubbery, just really tall and poofy. It turns out King Louis has acne. ACNE! CAT ACNE! And the vet actually told me to get OXY PADS!! So I did. Who knew?

Coyote told us about his secret super powers tonight. He's got several but the house favorite is: "Crosswalk Powers!"

And also, after two weeks, a phone call and some prodding the Wenatchee World finally published my letter: http://wenatcheeworld.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081006/OP01/710069920/-1/OP. It's the bottom one which they titled "Gregoire's Management".

I crossed another of life's major milestones today: I've now cleared 32 51/52s in human years. I know. It was a big one. But I think I survived. The ego is in tact. Mostly.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Step 10

I heard once that in order to find out what is really going on at school, you ask your daughter what she did at recess. I find that usually this works out well, but then I worry that by asking that question (instead of the old standby: "What did you learn at school today?") I'm inadvertently emphasizing who plays with whom, and, you know, sowing the seeds for that favorite middle school past-time: clicks. Using this excavation tool, however, I've discovered that Blue and her friends like to play school. I think it's probably some type of group therapy, like art for kids with PTSD.
After a few days of this, and given last year's history with the bully-girls of 1st grade, I initiated a little chat:
"You know, Blue, sometimes kids can use playing school as a way to boss people around."
"It's not like that."
"Are you sure?"
"We're playing and we all get to pick what we do."
"But you said the same girl is always the teacher."
"But that's because she Likes to be the teacher." They also have the school dog, apparently.
"So what are you?"
"I'm always a student. Actually, I'm always the new student, which I guess I am."
"Do you like being a student?"
"I love it."
"Why do you love it?"
"Because I get to get in trouble."
"That's not scary?"
"NO!! It's so much fun because you're not really in trouble! You just get to pretend you are. So the other day I got a Step 10!!! It was SO fun!" The system actually only goes up to Step 5: expulsion. I can't imagine what Step 10 is! The dungeon? The plank?

If you didn't already know, Blue is a HUGE Jane Goodall fan, has seen her speak and talks about her all the time. Although Blue clearly has a scientific mind, she so far doesn't show much propensity for sitting in one spot and quietly staring at animals. She loves to take notes on observations of squirrels and feral cats, however, these boisterous expeditions usually scare the animals off. Typically, her notes are about how the animal acts when a human is jumping up and down in front of it. For instance, "running" and "scared" are common activities of the aforementioned animals. Anyway, Blue wore her Jane Goodall shirt to school and this is what happened:
"The kids didn't like my shirt. They said I had a retarded monkey on it."
"Did that hurt your feelings?"
"No. I told them it was a chimp. I said, 'Haven't you ever seen a Chimpanzee?'"
"And what did they say?"
"They hadn't seen a chimp before. So then I said, 'Haven't you ever hear of Jane Goodall?' And they hadn't. Can you imagine never having heard about Jane Goodall?!!"
"Did you set them straight?"
"Yeah," She said. She stood there silently, zoning out, and then said, "Man, she ROCKS!" Emphasized by a head bang.

I'd like to say that these two stories illustrate why I admire that girl. She didn't even consider for a minute that the kids were right to tease about her shirt. As far as she was concerned they were simply uneducated. And she knows that getting into just a little bit of trouble is a lot of fun.

Coyote and I headed out to the skate park again today. He tried out some new tricks on the now emptied concrete waves. He noticed some litter and said, "I bet the other skaters left that. The mans." This summer they called him "little dude" and when he heard it he asked me, "What's 'little dude' in American?" So anyway, this brought up the issue of the type of people that skating sometimes attracts. We witnesses middle schoolers smoking at the park this summer and that concerns me. And since he's rather good at skating and there's a chance he might stick with it, I decided to have the peer pressure chat with him today.
"You know, sometimes when we have a hobby like skate boarding we end up being friends with other people that skate board. And sometimes those people have habits or do things that we don't do. But when we're hanging out with them, we might feel like we should do the same things they do. So some times we have to make a choice between doing the same things our friends do and doing what we think is right."
He got very serious, looked in my eyes and said, "Mama, I promise that even if my friends litter, I will never, never litter. I promise." I guess that's what I was technically talking about...
"You're a strong boy, Coyote."

I've discovered that Coyote on his bike with training wheels and a jogging Sarajoy both go about the same speed. This is VERY convenient. Again today, we went out together. And I discovered something new about myself. Check it out: I run better than I jog! I was still grinding through my 1/2 mile at a mediocre pace. After the 1/2 mile we walk back as a cool down. But Coyote wasn't quite done riding and this time he wanted to go really really fast. So I told him to go ahead and I'd see if I could keep up with him. And that is how I found myself running. It was a liberation: my chest opened up, my legs stretched out and my back even felt better. So I ran all the way back and it felt almost effortless. I'm so delighted that at the ripe old age of 32 23/24ths, I can still surprise myself.


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