Friday, November 20, 2015

Opus and the Great Green Room

LO and BB tend to cycle through favorite books. For a long while, LO requested Katy and the Big Snow every night. Some weeks, it's The Cat in the Hat. For an interminable several months, BB wanted only the inane Thomas the Tank Engine books.

But over and over again, both LO and BB return to Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, with pictures by Clement Hurd.

Before he died, my father and stepmother recorded themselves reading Goodnight Moon to LO, and it is the kids' preferred method of hearing about all of the items in the great green room. (Some of that preference might be because of the button they can push that invites them to re-record the story by moving the switch to the unlock position, which only occasionally gives me a heart attack at the prospect of losing Dad's recorded voice.)

But like generations of children before them, the boys love reading about the red balloon, the kittens, the mittens, the little toy house, the young mouse, the bowl of mush, and the little old lady whispering, "Hush."

On the day before Dad died, J, LO and I camped out in his hospital room, along with Dad's best friends and my devastated stepmother. We had brought board books along with us to read to LO, including our (non-pre-recorded) Goodnight Moon book. We read it to LO several times during that afternoon.

When we buried Dad three days later, his dear friend Kate read this poem she wrote, which was inspired by Goodnight Moon and our repeated readings of it to LO at my father's bedside:

Jim and Good Night Moon
April 7. 2013

Good night room. Good night moon.
Good night cow jumping over the moon.
Good night light and the red balloon.

Good night Broker. Good night Friend. Good night Brother…this is not the end.
Good night Grandpa. Good night Dad. Good night Husband…our hearts are so sad.
Good night Buddhas. Good night Beer. Good night Barn Pictures; all things you held dear.

Good night Room. Good night Moon.
Good night dear Jim. This was much too soon.

Good Night All. There is too much to say.
Safe Journey, friend Jim. Help Guide our way.

I don't remember reading Goodnight Moon as a child, but it is now inextricably linked to my parenthood and my father.

This morning, the connection deepened again. Berke Breathed's 2015 revival of Bloom County--which I SO wish I could discuss with my Opus-loving, Bill the Cat-voting dad--has introduced everyone's favorite penguin to a new line of work: as a support animal. November 20th's strip finds Opus reading a (somewhat edited) Goodnight Moon to a sick kid in the hospital.

It's hard to know how I feel about this. I was amused by the cow's big fat tush, and I love the kid's puzzled reaction to Opus's revision. Seeing Goodnight Moon read in a hospital setting (fictional though it may be) brought tears to my eyes. Re-reading Kate's beautiful farewell to my father makes April 5, 2013 feel like today. Knowing my sons will know their Grandpa Jim through his voice whispering, "hush" is bittersweet at best.

But with the week's horrors still fresh in my mind, I am so grateful for the gentle pleasures of a support penguin, a great green room at twilight, and my father's familiar voice.

Perhaps we can go home again, if only to say goodnight.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

August 31 and September 13

August 31 at 6:17 am
September 13 at 13 minutes to midnight:

Friday, September 11, 2015

Picture Day

Yesterday was picture day at the boys' school.

Pictured: LO's 2013 photo disaster
I have long since given up on trying to dress the children up for their school pictures, as you can see from LO's terrible 2013 photo shoot. (To be fair, I gave birth that day, but still).

However, J and I hoped that the kids could at least have better hair this year. To that end, we got out the comb before school and ran it through both kids' hair.

BB, ever happy to enjoy a new experience, submitted to the combing with good grace and pleasure. He even tried combing his own hair, with the non-toothed edge of the comb, in solidarity.

LO, on the other hand, wanted only to snuggle with me. In an attempt to get him to sit up so we could complete the minimal photo prep, I told him, "LO, please sit up! We need to make you beautiful and handsome."

LO snuggled even closer and shouted "No! I don't want to be beautiful!"

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

When the Ground Refuses to Swallow You Up

BB here is a lover of life. He is a generally happy guy who is delighted to join in any activity life throws at him.

For instance, when we dropped LO off at Sunday school this past Sunday, BB (who is too young by a good 13 months for the three-year-old class, let alone LO's K/1 class) followed the group into the classroom, pulled out a chair to sit, and looked up as if to say, "All right, what are we learning today?"

In addition to wanting a jump start on his Jewish education, BB also wants to know if there is anything better available wardrobe-wise than the clothes he happens to be wearing at the time. The way he generally indicates a preference for a different outfit is to remove all of his clothes and bring me the new ones to help him make a new sartorial statement.

I explain all this in order to tell you why and how BB was the center of the most embarrassing incident that has ever happened to me.

Here is, officially, what happened:

J and I signed up to purchase back-to-school clothes for a child at Lafayette Transitional Housing. Because of our unparalleled skill with planning, we had yet to buy the clothes as of the night before we needed to drop them off.

Since we wanted the boys to be involved in this small bit of tzedakah, we piled everyone in the car after dinner and told LO and BB that we were shopping for clothes for a little boy. (LO called the little boy, whom we have not and will not meet, a "friend." LO calls anyone under the age of 10 a friend, whether or not he knows them. As in, "that friend over there has a Thomas train. I want to play with it.")

When we got to Target, we immediately spread out among the boys' clothing section. I was distracted by a Darth Vader sweatshirt with an actual cape and the overwhelming sense of unfairness in realizing that it would never come in my size. J was doing the responsible adult thing of comparing prices of jeans vs. khakis. LO was running around like a maniac, excited to see some of his favorite licensed characters on toys that we. are. not. taking. home, so stop asking.

I was bringing the world's greatest sweatshirt over to show J when I realized I'd lost track of BB.

LO then said three words that did not strike as much fear in my heart as they should have.

He said, "Where's BB's shirt?"

Here is why those words did not strike fear in my heart. He neglected to add "and his pants and his diaper?"

Yes, my youngest was standing stark naked in front of a display of tee-shirts, reaching for a yellow shirt sporting an astronaut on the front.

(Upon looking back on the situation, I now understand why LO only asked about his brother's shirt. The pants and diaper were bunched around BB's ankles, well within LO's view. It was only the shirt that LO had lost track of--never mind the unorthodox way in which BB was adorned in said pants and diaper.)

That would have been bad enough. But in addition to my naked child, there was a grandmotherly type standing right by him keeping an eye out for the terrible mother who allowed her toddler to strip naked in the middle of Target.

"I thought his mom had to be nearby," she told me, as I wondered why sinkholes are never around when you need them.

"Mrrp," I said to the kindly lady while hurriedly pulling the child's pants up, wondering if embarrassment could still be considered a fatality in one's 30s.

"I thought maybe he had to use the potty," she added, trying to be nice.

Perhaps stomping on the floor could get that sinkhole going, I thought.

As it turned out, the grandmotherly type actually was a grandmother, and she couldn't have been kinder or more gracious. She told me her grandson was only a little older than BB. (She did not mention if he had ever taken down his skivvies in a major big box retailer, which makes me think the answer is no.)

Throughout, BB just kept looking at the display of shirts, wondering why Mommy's face was so durn red.

We successfully completed our trip with no further nudity. And I have had some time to think through my embarrassment and realize that it's just a part of life.

So my darling child, I want you to know something.

Someday, you will no longer be my exuberant little guy.
You will be a teenager.
You will know more about the world than Mom and Dad possibly ever could, and you will be embarrassed by everything we do.
You will wish for a sinkhole any time I start my exuberant public singing or your father wears his gardening clothes to run errands.
Most of all, someday you will be horrified and embarrassed when we meet the object of your affection.

And on that day, my sweet dear child, you will learn just how deep a mother's feelings are for her beloved son.

I'll tell your date this story.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Roughing It

For years, J has been lobbying for us to do more camping. One of the reasons why he bought his current vehicle, a 2006 Honda Element, was because it would be ideal for car camping.

Pictured: Not J's car.
"We can just hoist up the back seats and sleep on the floor!" he would exclaim. "It'll be really comfortable."

This past weekend, we decided to field test the Element's camping prowess. It performed admirably in getting us down to Clifty Falls State Park (two and a half hours away, because we believe that sleeping outside necessitates being as close to Kentucky as possible).

The rear seats folded up, just as advertised, leaving a nice flat spot for two not-too-tall adults and a couple of kids to settle in for a long summer's nap.

However, J's assurance that sleeping on said Element floor would be "really comfortable" was not entirely true. (And by that, I mean it was a dirty dirty lie.)

We unrolled the camp mats, made a nest with several blankets, and attempted to climb in together. Therein we discovered our first problem. We may not be tall, but the fine engineers at Honda never considered the possibility of a family of four attempting to sleep on the floor of the Element.

As LO put it as we assumed several different sleeping positions in an attempt to find something comfortable for the vast majority of the campers, "it's quite squished in here."

Add in a restless BB (who, I must point out, was pretty much always comfortable because my increasingly numb limbs served as his pillow and bed), and it was not a super great night's sleep.

I am thankful that we at least did a trial lie-down before getting on the road. J had hoped to bring Obie, our 70 pound greyhound, with us. But despite the fact that I consider myself to be a pretty good Tetris player, it was clear after multiple attempts to fit four Birkens plus one Obie into the space allotted for our sleeping that there was no winning this particular round. Lucky Poor Obie had to spend the night at our local kennel/spa.

That said, I had a wonderful time camping. The campground had a well-appointed bathroom, fire pits at each campsite, and some lovely hiking trails. We made s'mores. I read a book outside. Lack of sleep no longer guarantees my lack of enjoyment of something, or else I would have been in a constant bad mood for nearly five years. (And no comments on that statement from the peanut gallery, thank you very much.)

Since we had such a good time, other than the sleeping arrangements, we are talking about buying a large and nicely appointed tent into which we can easily cram some air mattresses.

Since someone other than J has rated these sorts of accommodations as "really comfortable," I trust that they will be.

Next time, it won't be so "quite squished" is what I'm getting at.

Let's just hope the kids aren't planning on growing to be 6 feet tall anytime soon.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Emily! So Nice to See You Again

Last Tuesday, LO and BB attended the same childcare facility for the first time. They are now both going to Montessori five days per week.

I feel reborn.

That same week, I managed to actually accomplish the following things:
  1. J and I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road 
  2. I decided that if we ever have a daughter, she will be named Furiosa. (This may or may not be related to item 1.)
  3. I ran five miles two days in a row.
  4. I completed five articles well within their deadlines.
  5. I got some cavities filled. (Not a fun or a good thing, but this was also on a day I also wrote a long and complex article, so yay for that. Or more accurately/numbly, aaay bor dat.)
  6. I started on a major project for Temple Israel. (I will be taking over as financial secretary.)
  7. I reorganized our filing cabinet, which I have been planning on doing since long before BB was born. (This may or may not be related to item 6.)
  8. I stayed up past 10 pm four nights in a row.
  9. I felt like myself.
I've really missed me.

Being sleep-deprived and time-scarce really took a toll. I spent much of the last winter just trying to get from morning to evening without actually looking forward to anything. I would procrastinate terribly when it was time to pick up the boys, because I knew I would be in the car for 45 minutes and then I'd have to wrangle children and hungry pets at the end of it all. I just was.

Now, BB is sleeping through the night more often than he is not.

We have found a babysitter who is auditioning for the role of real-life Mary Poppins and J and I are able to spend time together watching spiked/armored cars explode and old women kick ass and take names. (Seriously, even though I have never had any interest in learning to ride a motorcycle, I am now thinking about it so I can be like the Vuvalini.)

And the boys are together at a wonderful school for seven hours each day, and picking them up takes all of 20 minutes--if we can't find someone's lunch box.

Yes, I understood intellectually that the really hard part of sleep-deprived/time-scarce babyhood had an end-date, but I still forgot to feel it. It seemed as though I would never get back to myself again.

It's been long enough that this energetic person who jumps out of bed excited for the day feels kind of new--but she's really an old friend. I'm so glad to see her again.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Adventures in Cooking

This is a classic SAHMnambulist post from nearly five years ago, when I was pregnant with LO and J and I had just moved to Lafayette:

J and I are currently living in a POS sublet--a place that J has derisively nicknamed "The Flop House"--while we are waiting to close on our new house. This will theoretically happen on Friday, but that's another story.

The Flop House is unfurnished, and of course, the relocation benefits would not move us from our house in Columbus to a POS sublet to our new house, so we rented a U-Haul trailer hitch and brought the bare minimum for basic comfort. 
Of course, I've been finding over and over that I have forgotten something necessary for basic comfort. Like a spatula. I brought many things necessary for cooking, but no cooking utensils beyond the pots, pan, and baking dish I had packed. You've never really cooked breakfast until you've tried to flip an egg with no cooking spray on the frying pan (non-stick my ass) and the only utensils available to you are a fork and a knife. I like eating eggs by the individual molecule, don't you?

I did, however, bring our blender. We love smoothies for breakfast, and I figured it would do in a pinch if there was a need for a food processor, and why on earth would we need that in the 6 weeks we were in the Flop House?

Famous last words. Lafayette has a wonderful farmer's market every Saturday morning. This past Saturday, we overspent on produce because everything looked so fine. We bought gorgeous tomatoes, and I made plans for tomato-mozzarella-basil salad. We bought a bunch of fresh basil, because I had no idea that a "bunch" of basil was another word for "more basil that you can comfortably shake a stick at." The woman who bagged the basil suggested we make a big ol' batch of pesto. I haven't made pesto since I was in college, but it's delicious and we have the basil.

So, last night I made pesto. 
Those of you who know me recognize that patience and a methodical nature are NOT exactly my most striking qualities. I knew as I stuffed fistful after fistful of basil into the blender that this was not going to work. And yet the mad scientist child part of me just kept on stuffing, giggling madly. I threw in pine nuts, garlic (whole cloves), parmesan, and then poured a generous dollop of olive oil, figuring that might grease the blade enough to be able to handle the over-stuffing.

The blender made an unpleasant noise.

I shook the blender. Sometimes that works with smoothies.

It continued to make an unpleasant noise.

I took the top off and pushed the stuff down with a knife. Yes, the blender was still running. And yes, they are allowing me to become the mother of small child. The blender blade nicked the knife. Of course, I had used one of the fiddle head butter knives that are my favorite. See note above regarding patience and methodology.

I enlisted the help of J, a mechanical engineer. He found something flattish to push things down, and it worked.

Pesto, done! But of course, I am master chef and I am unsatisfied. The pesto just isn't smooth enough, in my humble opinion. (This coming from a woman who last made pesto literally 1 decade ago and last ate it probably 2-3 years ago. What can I say? I have an exacting nature). I add a little more oil. I start the blender running again. Of course, the pesto at the top is not coursing evenly down to be smoothed.

You can probably guess what I did next.

Back into the blender with the fiddle-head butter knife. The blade nicks the knife a few times, and then it takes matters into its own hands. Meaning, it pulls the knife out of mine. 
 Anyone familiar with either the laws of physics or slapstick comedy will know what happened next. The blender, wiser by far than the chef, turns itself off. But not before throwing the knife into the air, and covering the walls, ceiling, and my maternity shirt with pesto. (Of COURSE the top wasn't on the blender. Why on earth would anyone do something that intelligent?) The knife now also makes a sharp right turn at the end, which will make it convenient to butter toast around a corner.

There were no major casualties, with the possible exception of my shirt. J enjoyed making fun of me while cleaning the ceiling. Plenty of pesto was left in the blender, so we were not forced to eat it off of the flat surfaces of the kitchen.

However, an hour later we were eating salmon with pesto with a side of pesto pasta and some truly fantastic salad. J said, "Dinner is *really* good tonight. Thank you."

In cooking, the ends justify the means.