I found this on my kitchen table today.
And then this Lego Thor:
I love my life.
It’s funny how sometimes I’ll start feeling as though my kids have already gotten older months before their birthdays. I kept being surprised that he was only turning seven because he’s felt seven for months now. In fact, I’ve been told by more than one of his teachers that he’s really gotten mature this year. He handles conflict, listening, and following directions much better than he did a few months ago. His sense of humor is becoming even more refined, he’s riding his bike all by himself (with training wheels), he’s speaking clearer all the time, he’s loving and extremely cuddly, and he loves Legos. So we went to Legoland for his birthday.
Happy birthday, my sweet boy.
About a year ago Summer and I went to a Cake Wrecks books signing and met Jen and John. Yesterday we went to the beach and danced with Matt. We’ve decided that our new goal is to meet every internet celebrity, one by one. Which, now that I type it out, sounds really unlikely. But fun!
Quick digression: As we were walking all the damn way across Coronado (because the Fourth of July weekend + a hot day + the beach = no parking anywhere anywhere) and trying to corral two kids and also me across busy streets we naturally got to talking about Paris. It is a little scary to try to cross Parisian streets, and Summer recently accomplished this feat with 20 8th graders and survived (and so did the 8th graders). This conversation naturally led me to comment (again) on one of the things I was most struck by while watching Sherlock – I mean besides the fact that Sherlock Holmes and I totally have the same pillow. There is a scene (more than one, actually) in which someone hops in a cab that’s parked on the right side of the road and the cab darts between traffic all crazy-like onto the left side where it belongs and drives off like nothing unusual happened at all. I remember Douglas Adams writing about this once, and how he was shocked to get a ticket in the US for parking on the wrong side of the road. So I was relaying this to Summer with exaggerated emoting for humorous effect when a lady next to us piped up in an English accent and asked, “And what’s wrong with that?” My feet? Are DELICIOUS. She went on to accuse us Americans of crazy shit like making right turns on red lights so I guess we’re even, but note to self: never mock other cultures in public again. I mean, except for this paragraph. And a quick note to my English reader
s, I do not actually judge your culture for your parking habits. In truth, I merely poke affectionate fun at you. Feel free to return the gesture if that floats your boat.
So! Matt. We trudged across the sand to a giant crowd of people who’d gathered in the designated spot and who were murmuring things like “Matt” and “dance” and who were also wearing random strange headgear (presumably to spot themselves in the video easier). Matt was not there. But! He had kindly shared some notes with us regarding this gathering:
When you get to the spot, look for the guy who looks like the guy in the dancing video. Just come on over, say hello, and ask if I am Matt. If I’m not Matt, I will let you know.
Wearing distinctive clothing will make it easier to spot yourself in the video, but please do not dress as a licensed character (Mario, Spider-Man, Sarah Palin) or I will have to blur you and that will make everyone think you showed up naked or something. Also, please do not show up naked.
I did not notice anyone there naked, so this was clearly a group who followed directions very well. After a short wait, a dark-haired guy in sunglasses ran up to the crowd to a large round of applause. Speaking of mob mentality (because Summer was, actually), all it takes is for a few people to assume that every dark-haired guy in sunglasses is Matt for the rest of us to assume the first people know what they are talking about. They didn’t. But, true to his word, Matt informed us that he was not Matt. Only a moment later, another dark-haired guy in sunglasses, struggling with a large cooler, walked up to the crowd to very little applause. I guess we were jaded and suspicious by that point. Poor Matt.
And so we gathered into a big mob. There was a girl there with the most awesome bright orange hair I’d ever seen, two guys who Matt dubbed “Shirtless Guys”, and a bunch of goofy kids who bossed Matt around a lot. Well, and a bunch of other people, too. Matt set up the shot, made us give thumbs-up to the disclaimer, squeezed in to join us and we danced.
First we did Matt’s dance, and then we did a bunch of others. Turns out I fail at dancing. I mean, this really shouldn’t be a surprise to me, but it turns out even simple dances like The Swim are beyond me when you are supposed to do it in some kind of rhythm. I predict being fully embarrassed when this video is finished. Or possibly that the entire San Diego sequence will be cut because of me and I will become Hated.
The kids in the front row all took turns making up dances for us to do. Matt was seriously so awesome with all the kids. At one point a tiny two year old ran up and grabbed onto his leg and just held there – that’s pretty much how all the kids felt, I think. Elliott showed Matt how do do a “dance contest” which ended, unexpectedly, with falling down rather than a prize. But then most things Elliott does end with falling down. He is a big fan of the physical comedy.
It was such an awesome afternoon, as are most when you meet internet-famous people. But the sun was shiny and we were within view of the Hotel Del and we were dancing and we were with a group of people who were just awesome (as you’d have to be to show up to dance for the internet). And the traffic off the “island” (because Coronado likes to call themselves an island but it is clearly a peninsula) wasn’t nearly as scary as it looked. Win!
So. Who should we meet next?
UPDATE! We didn’t make it into the actual video because we were upstaged by a stupid sea lion (and maybe because I danced so terribly that we got upstaged by a stupid sea lion), but you can catch bits and pieces of us in the outtakes.
This photo was from yesterday’s Happy Thing. I sat there in the morning, checking in at Own Your Beauty, responding to comments and glowing as I read them. Over 1,000 people have read the article I wrote since it was posted Wednesday and as I lifted my mug for a sip of coffee, it occurred to me that while other people were looking at my mug that morning, I was the only one holding it. I don’t know that I can explain how surreal that is. So not only do I love the content of my work, but I think it’s pretty damn exciting to see my story posted on the home page of BlogHer.com, or on USAToday.com. Me. I wrote that. Wow.
Have I mentioned here that USA Today’s website has picked up Own Your Beauty? Cause they totally have. And I’ve even got a bio on there. A year ago I didn’t even know what I wanted to be when I grew up and here I am, a writer. Apparently. I’m loving it completely, but I’m also just in awe at how The Universe works.
I read this earlier in the week and it struck me. One of my bigger worries right now is about money. Will I be able to afford to live here at all? If not, then what? I can’t take the kids out of state where it might be cheaper because this is where their dad is. The other option I can think of doesn’t work for me, either. And to top it off, things have been tight this past year, even before the split. We have very little in our savings compared to what the IRS will probably expect come April 15th. And so I’d been taking a lot of deep breaths and reminding myself that even if we have to set up a payment plan with the IRS, we’ll still be alive at the end of it all. And then that last bit of Jen’s post? The addendum at the end about how there are people in the world who have much, much larger troubles in their lives? Some of them won’t be alive when Japan’s put back together. Some of them already aren’t. But some of them will. And for awhile their lives will be a nightmare, but then it will become normal again. A new normal. And they will go on. Because that is what people do and have done for the entire history of people. And that is what I will do, too. One foot in front of the other. That’s all I have to do right now.
And while we’re on the subject of the disaster in Japan (and, truly, I don’t think the word “disaster” has ever been so true as it is to this particular situation – it’s like watching a movie so ridiculously unbelievable, you change the channel. Only no one can change this one because it’s not a movie), can I just say that, despite all the sheer horror of the thing, it really puts global unity into perspective to me. And technology makes it possible to really understand how close we all are. 8,000 miles away (at least when taking the route Google Maps suggested) there was an earthquake. A massive one. It put our 7.2, 45-second quake last year to SHAME. (Note to Earth: No need to compete, stay calm. We’re proud of you for your 7.2, please do not feel the urge to outdo Japan.) It caused a tsunami that travelled, in one day, to California shores. When it reached us, it was far less destructive than in Japan, or even Hawaii, but it was clearly visible. We are truly connected. It was as though Japan reached out and touched us, quite literally. The wildness of creation, as Madeleine L’Engle put it, is truly incredible. The effects of the quake also fill me with awe – according to CNN, the quake moved the main island of Japan about 8 feet, also shifted the entire axis of the Earth, effectively shortening the day (however minute, it’s impressive). That’s mythical, right there. Of course, this article states that weather patterns can change the length of a day far more than the quake did, and that’s almost more incredible. Oh my how I love my Mother Earth. She is truly wild and amazing.
Here in my home, I’ve been making changes. I started with that shoe rack, moved on to the rest of the living room, into the closets, kids’ room, kitchen and my own bedroom. Things are organized and they’ll stay that way. You have no idea how happy I feel about this. I feel clean and uncluttered. Tomorrow some friends are going to come by and help me move the furniture in the living room around and make it a new place with new energies. Speaking of energies, I have this intense desire to keep the windows unblocked. For most of my childhood, the curtains were drawn to prevent people seeing the mess. For most of my marriage the windows were open, but covered by furniture, as was every available inch of wall space. And now I just want them free and unblocked. I want them wide open to clean energy and sunlight and a soft breeze off the ocean. I even plan to start washing the windows soon. (Hey, I’ve washed them once in the 5 1/2 years we’ve lived here, what do you want from me?)
The kids still seem to be adjusting well. They’ve spent a couple nights at their dad’s now, and he’s being very flexible with them when they want to come back here. More than I probably would be, even. They don’t seem overly upset and don’t even seem to be acting out much in other ways. I can only imagine this is because there’s been no drama between their parents and they know they can come and go as needed and we will always support them.
I, on the other hand, cried the night they left. Of course Elliott came back home at 9:00 that night so I wasn’t truly alone anyway. The next night I was, though. And I don’t remember the last time I was the only one in a home. Maybe some time when Melissa and I lived together. Surely the amount of times I’ve slept utterly alone in a home have been less than the number of fingers I have (which is the average amount). It felt empty, and I kept panicking when I realized I hadn’t checked on them in awhile. But it also felt good. Like I finally get the chance to find out who I am and how I like to live. I finished lining the cupboards with shelf paper, got some work done and watched some TV. When I woke up the next morning I discovered the two extra pillows had converged on me just like the kids usually do in the night.
And then this morning, after a night full of very tedious sleep wherein my mind chattered away endlessly with utterly pointless dreams, I had a Big Important Dream. It began with me outside the home my grandparents owned. The yard was completely dug out, at least a full story into the earth. The walkway to the door, left untouched. A police officer had died in some sort of standoff here at some time in the recent past. I was in the driver’s seat of a car (so much different than my first Blue Whale dream… which, according to a quick search, I never wrote about here – must do that soon) and when I looked into the backseat, I saw myself. Which is just fucked up. So I attacked her/me. I scratched and pinched, anything I could from my position to hurt her. She/I just sat there, terrified. She/I never made a sound. And then I heard a voice – someone was just out of sight – telling me that she/I was my inner self and I should be kinder to her/me. I don’t think I attack myself any more, but I feel it’s pretty clear this is one of those dreams you must take seriously. What are your thoughts?
And now I will get up off my arse and go do some more prep in this house before tomorrow comes. I’m going to enjoy my open windows and my newly open spaces in my rooms. And then maybe I’ll play some Wii with the kids. It’s gonna be a lovely day.
Growing up I never believed in Santa because my mother felt it was wrong to lie to children (irony!) and while I don’t think allowing children to believe in such things necessarily amounts to lies (although, in some cases, I have seen that happen when parents push the issue too far), I also didn’t feel my childhood’s holidays were any less magical knowing that Santa was pretend. Not really knowing how to handle it, I sort of took a back seat and let my children decide for themselves. For one year my daughter decided that Santa was real, but after that she’s been adamant that he’s pretend and she’s not falling for that. This is very true of her personality – she does not tolerate silliness well, desperately needing to hear solid facts. For her Santa has been fun only so long as we are clear that he is pretend. My son, who was not born awake like his sister, does not yet understand reality from fantasy and this year, that’s creating some issues.
Many months ago, my son announced that instead of Santa, Indiana Jones would be bringing the presents this year. I jumped right on that bandwagon and stayed there even though Elliott grew bored with the idea. I really wanted Indy, dammit.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve had many conversations on the subject.
Me: Is Indiana Jones bringing us presents this year?
E: No. He’s not real.
Me: Oh, but Santa’s real?
E: Yes. Well, Indiana Jones is real, just not on this earth.
Me: And Santa is real on this earth?
Me: So you want Santa to bring you presents?
E: Yes. But he’s scary. So tell him to be very quiet and not wake me up. Or else I’ll be scared and I’ll run around and scream.
Me: OK. I promise. I’ll make Santa be quiet.
Me: Hey, Elliott, you know you don’t have to believe in Santa. You can choose to have someone less scary bring you presents, or Daddy and I can bring them all.
E: No. I want Santa to bring them. Just tell him not to wake me up.
Me: But did you know that some people believe in Santa, and some people don’t – they just like to pretend about Santa.
E: Oh. But I know he’s real. So I can’t pretend.
E: Mommy, I don’t want Santa to bring our presents. I want you and daddy to fill our stockings.
Me: Do you want to not believe in Santa?
E: No. I just don’t want him to come.
While I find these conversations amusing on many levels (especially the bit about how he knows Santa is real, leaving me to assume that everyone else is stupid for not knowing this basic truth), I also find them disturbing and somewhat confusing. He’s clearly torn between wanting to find Santa fun, and being just damn scared of the guy, and I wish I could help ease his mind somehow. I think my next step is to just tell him that Santa is definitely not real, but in all honesty, I am not sure he’ll believe me since he clearly accepts this the same way he accepts that food will end his hunger and that he sleeps with his eyes open (he doesn’t – he just has an interesting dogma). But I hope that, however this ends, it ends the anxiety in his little heart.
On a somewhat related note, I recently asked him, “Do you know what God is?” “No,” he told me in his little voice, “Can you tell me about it?”
Recently we visited a friend who had a smallish pool in their backyard. I was concerned about this pool before we even arrived since my son doesn’t swim at all, and, while he’s tall enough to stand up in it, the middle was too far away for me to be able to grab him if he lost his footing. I was offered a life vest, but honestly, I thought that might do even more to upset his balance in the end so I let him go in without it.
Earlier that same week, I’d read this article that several moms I know posted on Facebook. It’s a good article – it doesn’t induce fear, instead it aims to empower you with information about what drowning really looks like. I wasn’t all that surprised to learn that it’s nothing like it’s portrayed in the movies, but I didn’t know what it did look like and I’m glad I do now.
I bet you can see where this is going. Don’t worry, everyone is fine. Totally fine. I just have mild PTSD.
At some point, my son did, in fact, lose his footing in the middle of the pool. And his little body reacted just as the article had said it would. Somehow, I knew which side he’d move towards and I headed to that side of the pool, grabbed his arm and set him on his feet. He sputtered, cried, and then got pissed. I mean. His hair was wet. Worst thing ever. The whole thing lasted only seconds and he was so completely fine right away. He even spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool. (I spent the rest of the afternoon breathing deeply and shaking.)
Immediately, I began to question myself: Was that foresight, or did my fear manifest the incident? A good friend assured me it was intuition and I know she’s right. Intuition combined with common sense is a powerful thing. As though reading my mind another friend suggested it was my fears that made it happen, but I don’t believe that is what happened in this case and here is why: my fears have dissolved. In my experience with unhealthy fears, they only grow stronger with incidents such as this. But here I am, my heart is light and my mind is clear. My son is fine, I saved him and I could do it again. I am no longer afraid to let him go in this pool (although the concern based on common sense remains).
Blessings: The internet. My intuition and common sense. Comforting friends. My son’s very life.
What a beautiful life.
Last week Threadless announced this cool shirt and I bought it that instant. It arrived Friday night, just in time for me to wear on my son’s birthday – to his party and out to dinner afterward. Apparently, he was too busy thinking about Legos all day to notice because this morning when I put it on again we had this conversation:
E: Mommy! When did you buy that shirt from the computer?!
Me: Last week, silly. Don’t you remember I wore it on your birthday?
E: *thinks* No, Mommy. You must have had your back turned to me.