Thursday, April 29, 2010

a prescription for what ails you

A two-year-old dreaming in her bed, softly snoring.

Silent house, floor boards resting.

Hot water in the tub, quietly steaming.

A new book, pages waiting.

Chunky oatmeal cookie, raisins and cinnamoning.

The peace of the moment, to allow for some resting.

Yes. I ate that cookie in the bathtub. And it was DELICIOUS.
Tell me something weird you've done lately.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

the worst parts of me

I don't often write about darkness here. I would say I don't know why, and yet I do: this place is burdened with brightness, the light of Bean's face and our life with her, the peace I find with Chip, the quality of quiet that has settled into the creases of my days.

And yet there are things that I'd like to shed, small hard pieces of gravel that crystallize into something bitter and dark. Salty stones of yellow bile comprised of those things that I push down into my center, lest they rise too often to the surface and poison those I hold nearest and dear. Keeping them buried in the dark can't last forever - the pressure they exert is hydraulic. Then there's a sudden bubble of water when they come floating into view, bobbing on the surface of my day, totally unbidden.

What does a person do in such moments? Push them down like blood-red apples in water? Hope they can be wedged deeper this time, stay longer beneath the surface? Or pull them out one by one, examine them? Let them dry in the light, hoping their scaly surface will fall like hard little cupcakes, that their insides will wither into themselves until there is only a small thatch of porous fluff--- something that can blow away in the wind.

Today I'm choosing to let you see the worst parts of me, the dark thoughts, the questioning thoughts, the worries and hurts, the meanest considerations, the fish white underbelly that is impossible to dress in pretty clothes.

. I worry that you have given me far too much credit. My friends who come by to read the occasional updates, the wonderful people I've met because of The Creamery who have become friends over time, and even those strangers who lurk quietly and unobtrusively in the dark reading about life from Whimsy's perspective. I worry that I'm a charlatan, a faker. Someone who puts out this daily attempt at noticing beauty and wonder in a very small life but has trouble finding joy in the laundry loads. I worry that the only reason you've professed interest in my days and the way they are phrased here is because you lack a significant sample size for comparison. There are so many blogs in the world, so many beautiful writers, so many amazing mothers, so many gifted artists. I am, in comparison, the bit of gravel lining the driveway that you'd have to drive up to meet these people. In other words, I am insignificant.

. I worry about balance. The cost of finding it, the trouble of keeping it, the sacrifices one makes to do either. On even my best days, I teeter far over the line and have trouble understanding what I can give up and what I need to add to find balance. It is a terrifying concept to me, actually, this idea of being balanced. I don't know if such a thing would destroy the parts of me that I enjoy most. So I veer freakishly over the line, driving my life like a drunk sailor wearing a blindfold. I feel like I am, in a phrase, too much. Too much melancholy or too much giddiness or too much organization or too much free spirited wonder or that I even ask too much of those that I love.

. I worry that this entire entry screams PLEASE JUST LOVE ME. Which, you guys are the sweetest, kindest, most generous, and might I add ATTRACTIVE blog readers a girl could have, so I know that you'd slather on the love, should the situation require it. I'm tempted to even turn off the comments for just this one post, actually, so that you don't feel like you have to donate a hefty dollop of Whimsy love to this here train wreck. Not that I don't want it (I do, I really do), but because it's precisely this kind of drama-laden overtly tortured ego lather that works me into a state. I hate it. It doesn't feel authentic. And in case you can't already tell, this examination of my worst qualities is all about my chief worry over being authentic.

. I'm afraid of being too vulnerable.

. I'm also afraid of not being vulnerable enough.

. I'm afraid of being too strong.

. I'm also afraid of not being strong enough.

. I worry that I am boring. That my intense focus on certain things would require an equally unbalanced, OCD-ridden freak like myself to appreciate it. And then, I think that even a Whimsy clone would grow tired of it after a while. Chip tells me that, as a creative person, I have to recognize that I have limits--- that when I'm working through a sewing project or fine-tuning an essay or dreaming up a story, my focus lies there, at exactly the center--- and the things that fall away from it lie dormant for a while. Which explains why I can go weeks without feeling a single inspiring word to write here and be sewing up a storm in my studio. But still (say it with me) B-O-R-I-N-G. I don't have the capacity to ignore my inner critic, to not worry about the fallout and its ill-effects. I don't know how to trust that things will take care of themselves: here at The Creamery as well as in my own life. I can tell you something, you readers who might be nodding along and thinking that you've been in this predicament: TURN BACK NOW, BECAUSE WORRYING ABOUT BEING BORING IS EVEN MORE BORING THAN BEING BORING. And that's saying something.

. Several things bother me. Like itchy collars on shirts and vanity sizing at Old Navy. Also nuts in things that should not contain nuts (like ice cream and bread and pasta). Comb-overs. Bean's lightning naps (lasting 45 minutes or less). Garbage in the kitchen sink (why not just THROW IT AWAY, THE TRASH CAN IS RIGHT THERE). Peg-legged jeans. Zippers in the ankles of pants (making it impossible for me to shorten them). Lying. Friends who disappear. Cheap chocolate that tastes like soap. Sinus headaches. When the water pitcher is left empty in the refrigerator. Butter that explodes in the microwave (true story). I hate jeans that fall down halfway through the day (fit perfectly at 8am). I have categorized certain flowers and shrubbery as 'Old Lady Plants' and I refuse to plant them in my own yard even though some of them are perfectly lovely (this drives Chip crazy). I can't stand pesto, and as far as I'm concerned, cilantro is the DEVIL'S HERB. I won't drink milk from anyone's refrigerator except my own. I hate people who walk out on an argument. Slow internet connections. Smelly towels. Cleaning out the cat box. Finding crumbs in my bed. And sob stories like this one.

So there they are, some of the worst parts of me laying here before you. I hope I can leave them out long enough to disintegrate in the sun, blow away with the first strong gust of wind.

Here's hoping.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

a brief glimpse into yesterday's morning activity

Playing with cards seems like a perfectly lovely way to spend the morning.

What's that I see?

Yes, that. Behind you.

Is that Hurp sitting on your father's face? While he's sleeping?
Well okay then. Perfectly reasonable. Of course.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Dear Bean,

There are days when I am not very proud of myself. When I am not the best mother that I could be. When I am not patient enough, or gentle enough, or sweet enough, or receptive enough. Days when I don't understand. Days when I don't walk slow enough. Days when I don't stop running to let you just look.

Days when I should stop doing whatever I'm doing that's so terribly important and just hold your hand and tell you that you are the most fantastic, wonderous, beautiful, funny, imaginative, smart, courageous, and sweet 2-year-old that I know.

I'm sorry.

But know this: I love you. And I will always always always try harder tomorrow.



Thursday, April 22, 2010

wish list

Here is a shiny copper penny to toss into the deepest parts of a mossy well.

Here is a lost cat whisker, tiny flexible fairy wand for your mind-wrinkled hopes.

Here is a flickering meteor, that smudge of stardust on the night sky.

Here is a wishbone, an eyelash, the season's first bluejay----

Make a wish.

But not that kind of wish.

Wish for the impossible, the improbable, the unlikely. Wish for:

. A hazelnut orchard, a quiet day, a thick blanket--- and being 8-years-old with nothing to worry about.

. Waking up to two fuzzy purring cats when I was 27 and could sleep in until noon on a Saturday.

. The time and space to do the deep-reading I did as a 12-year-old. Laying on my parents' bed, sitting at the brown kitchen table, basking in the circle of light in our family room.

. Books culled from this source. And the fresh mind of a 10-year-old, reading A Wrinkle in Time for the first time.

. My sixteen-year-old hips.

. An entire night to enjoy the feeling of Chip's skin beneath my fingertips (this, from days early in our marriage when our biggest worry was what movie to see on Saturday afternoon and making sure we weren't late to work).

. Just a few minutes with an Alice just hours old, her milk-soft breath on my face.

. This is what I'm wishing for: a pause button for life's brightest moments, the ability to go back to a memory in feeling and sense and everything that matters. The recollection kept so shiny you can see your face reflected in the surface.

What do you wish for?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


When Bean was a few weeks old she developed a rash. It spread in angry red bumps over her face - allowing me to imagine how she'd look, crying, if she ever reached teenagehood and shaved her head. At first I dismissed it as a newborn thing--- I tried to wash her face more carefully, watched for signs of it to pass. But as she neared two and even three months, I began to suspect that it was something else.

I'll never forget having a well-meaning salesperson suggest that I try a specific brand of lotion, one that did wonders with "this kind of thing". When I got home that afternoon, I spread the white lotion on my fingers and started to apply it to Bean's rashy red cheeks. The scream she uttered did nothing to make me think that the lotion was doing "wonders" - rather, it sounded to me like it was literally BURNING THE SKIN OFF HER FACE. I scraped and rubbed my fingers over her hot bumpy cheeks, running to the bathroom to try to wash it off that much faster.

I had intended to sooth and had instead served to exacerbate.

For not the first time (and most certainly not the last), I felt very very very foolish.

Lately I've had the feeling of experiencing a proverbial red angry rash, a metaphorical rash. A rash inside my mind and heart. I've felt irritated and bothered and melancholy in equal measure. But the things that I've tried to sooth the hurt have only caused it to flair into an even bigger mess.

On a long ago June day, I finally took Bean to the doctor to discuss the rash. He dismissed some of the more outlandish possibilities and came back with one diagnosis: eczema. And the answer was quite simple: a thick moisture barrier of Aquaphor after every bath, and double rinsing all of our laundry to get rid of any soap residue. The improvement was noticeable after only a couple of days, her skin losing the scaly crust and starting to resemble the whisper-soft stuff she was born with.

In the past few days I've taken a similar course with my own internal dismay: a thick salve of comfort, and a double-rinse for things that might try to creep through the cracks. So far it's working, I'm feeling a little bit better--- maybe not quite as inspired (or inspiring) as I'd like to be, but I'll get there. Just need a bit of time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

now i know my abc's

The weekend? I have to tell you--- I somehow managed to get my 1989-born hairstylst dude to discuss NOT the weather, NOT weekend plans, NOT 8-track tapes and their strange existance prior to his entrance in the world--- but truly actually no-doubt-about-it POETRY, PHILOSOPHY, and LITERATURE. I'm not kidding. I walked out the door having actually left him a short reading list (at his insistence) of my favorite contemporary poet (Stephen Dunn), a wonderful and thought-provoking standard (Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet), and a basic of philosophy: Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Score one for Team Whimsy.

Bean, having not only entered, but having pitched a tent, started a campfire, and also begun construction on her PERMANENT RESIDENCE in the existance we shall call BEING TWO, is showing quite the talent for avoidance and delay of bedtime. Specifically bathtime. Once upon a time she loved her bath. Loved it. And now it's kicking and screaming and lots of demands for things other than the bath. So I've started getting creative. For a little while, the tactic was to look for her beloved (and a little bit faded due to the bleach) NotCookie. I'd be all, WHERE'S COOKIE? LET'S GO FIND COOKIE! And then we'd go upstairs and magically find the blue monster bath mitt IN THE BATHTUB! Fantastic!

But Bean decided to wise up. She lost interest in finding NotCookie. She still loves him, don't get me wrong. But now when I say that we need to find him, she's all Dude--- Cookie is UPSTAIRS, PROBABLY IN THE BATHTUB. TRY SOMETHING ELSE.

The newest bathtub wrangling mechanism is these little colored foam letters. I dump them out into the tub and we have Bean Alphabet Soup. Also: they stick. To the tub. And other things.

Annnnnnd that was my weekend. A hair cut. Some alphabet letters. A husband that will be working locally and HOME all week long (cue choir of angels).

How was yours?

Friday, April 16, 2010

several things that I think are funny and one that is not

Our garden in the wake of Hurricaine Bean.

1. I am going to get my hair cut on Saturday by the same guy who thought 8-track tapes were "from sometime in the 1980's?"---- defintiely well before he was born. I don't know why I put myself through this madness, why I don't just up and demand that the person who cuts my hair be born before 1979 and have a working knowledge of the tv show CHiP's. Instead, this is what I get: 45 minutes of conversation revolving around music I don't know, and stories that require way too much back story ("So 8-track tapes were these things before regular cassette tapes? We had an 8-track player in our station wagon and would listen to John Denver and The Carpenters").

2. Bean's newest acrobatic feat involves throwing her body over a large red rubber ball in our living room. I think she dreams of laying on the thing like an inflated rubber dingy, but due to it being a BALL and everything, she ends up getting dumped on her (count them): head, chin, bum, elbow, knee, nose, leg, and cheekbone (that's just from yesterday).

3. I went back and read yesterday's post after a few of you proclaimed that you thought it was some kind of cat eulogy. My only thought is that I should have put a disclaimer in the title: THIS CAT IS NOT DEAD... YET.

4. We're facing that stage with Bean where she's so darn EXCITED about flowers and greenery that she ends up killing the objects of her affection... killing them with TODDLER KINDNESS. She bent back the petals of the above tulip when she was giving it a love. And then she uprooted several sprigs of thyme because she wanted to give them a 'tiss. Basically we feel the need to console the foliage after Bean has visited.

5. How to depress yourself in three easy steps: put your daughter to bed (knowing that you'll be back in her bedroom again sometime in the next five hours), wander to your bedroom to prepare to take a shower but instead of a shower--- turn the television on and watch this show on PBS about talking to children about the death of a parent--- starring Katie Couric and the Sesame Street Muppets.
And now that I've brought all of YOU down, tell me what you're doing this weekend. We're pulling weeds and attempting to shiend the remaining tulips from too much of Bean's love.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

old man

I still remember him as the tiniest little boy, his ears bigger than his entire body.

He shook when I first held him.

Later that afternoon, I carried him in my hand as I bought his first bag of cat food.

He was a very good traveler.

I briefly considered naming him Ferdinand, for his peaceful sweetness.

He liked to climb into the front pocket of my sweatshirt and have me carry him around the house.

But in the end, Fergus Duncan MacTavish won out.

He seemed Scottish.

He was very distinguished.

Fancy even.

He is picky with whom he chooses to spend his time.

Not everyone makes the cut.

But he always, always, always makes time for me. Becoming that squishy-faced love muffin I knew those many years ago.
Now I see gray in his goatee.

It makes me sad that he doesn't move as fast--

that he doesn't climb underneath the hall rug--

or fit into my pocket--

or try to jump on Phoebe's head (those were some funny moments).

But I don't tell him that.

I tell him that the gray just makes him look more distinguished.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

these things on the wind

There are mornings when I come here
and I want to post nothing more than a period

or maybe a comma

would be more fitting

since I'm thinking that it's a pause I'm looking for

a dip into nonsense
and nothing more.

a notice that it's okay
to dabble in

Today I'm doing
just that.
A comma

And this, in honor of April's national poetry month:

Wind in a Jar
-for Deborah Whitman

I had been thinking of Bosnians and Serbs,
another stupid slaughter in a world
I could not disavow as mine,
when in your studio you said
This is wind in a jar. I saw the white hint
of turbulence near the bottom
of an irregular rhombus---a jar
because you called it a jar---
and I could look right in at the fixed wind
and the mere air that surrounded it.
I was happy you had caught the wind,
which for centuries had been as reckless
as anyone angry and unattached,
happy you'd given in such a resting place.
I wanted you to make a jar
for certain dark sections of the heart,
and a jar for honesty that hurts,
and a jar open on all sides---a freedom jar---
that would hold only what wished to be held.
But I had to say goodbye, or once again get lost
in the flux and the effluvia of life and art.
Outside in the warm unauthorized night,
a small breeze had come up, a fledgling wind,
something that had gotten away, I was sure,
from somewhere, and would roam
the torturous earth for as long as it could.

-Stephen Dunn

Monday, April 12, 2010


She will be happily suck suck sucking on a paci and then POP it out of her mouth, holding it out to me----

"Show? Show? Show?" she'll wave the paci in the air.

That's when I'll retrieve the paci from her and inspect it for the errant Alice Hair that she's clearly requesting I remove. Show = Hair.


She is standing right at my knees, arms stretched up as far as she can reach, waiting for me to hold her.

"Yes, baby, come see me." I say smiling.

I know that coultie is cookie; jrass is grass; jreen is green. I love how medicin-nin is her word for Motrin and she likes to call me pokey-lokey (in response to me cheerily saying, Hi Pookie-Lookie). The number seven is semmen, the number eleven a charming combination word of twelven. And when she is feeling particularly expansive, she loves to give me a 'tiss.

The shorthand is something I prayed for, hoped for, worked for, for so long. Before she could talk, when she was gurgling and looking at me so expectantly, I worried that I'd always be at a loss with her, that I'd never understand what she needed and be able to convey the same. But it's funny just how much I've taken her expansive vocabulary for granted. These days I find myself getting frustrated when she is madly repeating the same nonsense word, hoping that by mere repetition I'll magically understand that JREEN PREZLE is clearly the green puzzle that I stow inside our bag for keeping quiet at church.

Last week she started waking up in the middle of the night - several nights of 4am wake-up calls with terrified screaming and tears that wouldn't stop. Initially I approached the situation with a moderate sense of calm, thinking it was the product of her cold, then perhaps she was just being difficult and clearly TWO. But as the days drilled on with no end in sight to the sandpaper gritty sleep-deprived eyes, I started to get desperate. When the 4am-won't-go-back-to-sleep insanity actually became a O-N-E am cribside sit-in, I knew that the initial hiccup was something else - something else entirely.

It was a scared screaming, a terrified screaming when I went into her room. She wouldn't calm down even as I patted her diapered bum, holding her close to my chest. I whispered in her ear quietly mama's here, mama's here, mama's here, mama's here... you're safe baby, you're safe, you're safe, you're safe... until finally she whimpered a shuddering sigh and quieted. We swayed and walked for a long while. I rubbed sleep from my eyes and tried to be present in the moment, to understand what it might mean, to grasp what I could possibly do to help her.

And as the night noises continued outside Alice's bedroom window, the moon hanging impossibly lonely in the sky, this is what I did: I sat in the dark and talked to my daughter. I told her she was perfectly safe inside our house. I told her that there wasn't anything that could escape the careful attention of her daddy, he the ever-observant one. I told her that we hover on the edges of every breath she breathes, there is nothing she does that goes beyond our notice. I told her that angels watch over her while she sleeps - that there is a host of spirits who comb through her dreams and are whispering quiet words of peace even now in the dark. I told her about her fuzzy friends, Fergus and Phoebe - that even as she slept, they paced the house on paws intent on her best interest. I told her that I carefully tidy her days to my best ability, doing everything to give her the sweetest, the brightest, the most tenderly chosen carefree childhood that I can. I told her she should be dreaming of dandelion fluff and the quietest caress of cat whiskers on her cheek.

Then, with a sigh, I asked her what was wrong, what was worrying her so very much in the dark. I waited quietly to hear something back from her, some sign or word that would give me a clue to the problem.

And with all my explanations, with all my promises, with all my intentions to sooth and to quiet--- the shorthand failed. There are no words right now for Alice to tell me of her trouble, no simple phrase to whisper that will give me insight into her cries.

Just this in the dark: a face wet with her tears, her heart thrumming like a hummingbird, and a clumsy mother stuttering promises that she will work to make true.

Friday, April 9, 2010

there's alot going on in this post and you might not be able to keep up (I certainly didn't)

I lied when I told Chip earlier in the day,

"You know, this cold isn't so bad. It's totally doable, in fact. I'm just fine."

Maybe it wasn't that I lied, it's just that the Cold Fairy was waiting in the wings, listening to my gloating, and decided to dump an extra bit of MISERY on my soggy, self-righteous, stupid self.

Yes, I said stupid.

Because who ELSE would say that, just TEMPTING the fates to offer a New and Improved Rain of Toads to the Whimsy Misery Train?

Me. I am that stupid.

Speaking of the Fates and my stupid cold-tempting sneeze-having self: Chip and I met his sister Marissa to see Clash of the Titans a few nights ago. (This was when I was all COLD-SCHMOLD! I AM WHIMSY, HEAR ME ROAR!) It was a nostalgic sort of movie event, each of us envisioning bad claymation scorpions and awesomely terrible special effects from the original 1980's movie. The new one? ....let me just say this one word and you'll just know: thighs. The new movie? Thighs, thighs, thighs. Mostly man thighs. After the movie Chip was all, "I feel intimately familiar with Perseus' upper... thighs." And I was all, "BIG AS TREE TRUNKS, MAN. Was that really the same dude who was in Avatar? Really? Cuz he was all scrawny. And Perseus? Tree-trunk thigh-muscles." Chip merely raised his eyebrows at me and sighed. Because I am That Wife. Later, in the car as we drove home, Chip started to refer to himself as Demi-Chip in his attempt to show up the Demi-God Perseus (perhaps he was a little jealous of those thighs?).

I can tell when I've been reading a lot from this awesome blogger because my sentences get really short and I want to write really sarcastic things that would never be funny coming from me.

Also: I start to think I'm funnier than I am.

It's okay. I'm trying to keep humble.

I keep having this strange desire to shriek, "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!" And then I run my fingers through my manly Zeus beard.

The cold-that-wasn't-going-to-send-me-over-the-bend-but-did resulted in me taking this lip-lickingly good medicine.
Notice that there isn't any left in this photo. I can also give you a nice list of tips to end your diet NOW AND FOREVER MORE, which strangely enough, includes things like "get a cold and feel terrible" and "take this medicine which makes you feel fuzzy and weird ALL DAY LONG" so that you will then "decide to not exercise and instead eat a fully stocked hotel breakfast including HASH BROWNS" which leads to imagining a sign hanging over your head reading "abandon all hope, all ye who enter here" and then "eat an entire bag of homemade oatmeal cookies". Cheers!

In case you're keeping track (it's okay, I know you're not keeping track)--- we are still waking up at 4am and wanting to die. Just, you know, the usual.

I can't be held responsible for the choices I make when severely sleep-deprived. For example, from the Target $5 DVD bin:

I don't know either. It was a compulsion.

The last time I surrendered to this type of madness, I walked out of Target with a copy of The Last Unicorn (music by AMERICA). I remember just being madly in love with that movie when I was a kid. It was like a sickness, I loved that movie so much. Watching it several years later gives me insight into my psyche and I've got to tell you: I'm not pleased with what I've found. Um. This movie?'s terrible. Awful. Horrid. There is this music that just makes you want to put your head in an oven, and the animation is atrocious. It doesn't give me much hope for the cinematic masterpiece known as POPEYE, but you know what? I'm watching it ANYWAY. Me and my terribly tired eyelids.

Whimsy out.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

s is for severely sleep-deprived

I am thisclose to taking Bean in for couple's counseling, for surely if there ever was a couple who needed the counseling it is Bean and her once-beloved sleep.

I am guessing there was some cataclysmic event that sent them both over the edge, all FINE! FINE! I'M NEVER SPEAKING TO YOU AGAIN! (slams door)

We've tried to talk to sleep, reminding him that he is much older and wiser than Bean and he really needs to take the higher ground, but his response each time is to quietly sigh and then say that he'll be there for her when she's ready. But she has to take the first step.

Try to make a toddler TAKE THE FIRST STEP. And into SLEEP, at that? Yeah................ so.

We are mystified. Beyond mystified, we are STYMIED, people. As soon as we put her in her crib (or any crib, since this is happening even when we're on the road as we are this week in Portland)--- there are tears and crying out for DADDYDADDYDADDYDADDY!!!! (Chip has spent the last two nights laying on the floor in front of her crib until she falls asleep) And that's not all, nope. We have Early! Morning! Waking! (like FOUR O-CLOCK IN THE MORNING, EARLY MORNING) And she won't go back to sleep. WON'T GO BACK TO SLEEP, PEOPLE. She wants to be up! For the day! AT FOUR O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING. This is the kind of thing that makes me die inside. At this point in our early parenting career, we feel a little bit ENTITLED to the early morning sleep. WE'VE EARNED IT. So this kind of freakish return-to-babyhood stuff WITHOUT the benefit of the chubby baby thighs and the baby smell? TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.

We've tried reasoning with her, telling her to go back to sleep (TEARS AND SHOUTING). We've tried to lay her back down (TEARS AND SHOUTING). We've even brought her back to bed with us and while we mostly avoid the TEARS AND SHOUTING---from Bean, there is plenty of TEARS AND SHOUTING from me and my liver as she pummels me with her little feet of fury. Also: there isn't any additional sleep having from any of the three of us.

There was a point yesterday evening, just as we were about to eat dinner, when Chip looked at me through nearly-crossed eyes and said, "I can't figure out why I've wanted to just lay down and DIE today. That, or fall asleep." I had to remind him that he'd been awake since BEFORE THE SUN ROSE.

So. Before we ship her off to Intensive Couples Therapy I'm begging for merciful help from all you nice people. Tell me what is wrong. Tell me what to DO. And tell me that this isn't going to cause me to BURST INTO FLAME, though I'm afraid that it already has (FLAMES! ACTUAL LIVING FLAMES OF FIRE!).


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

then and now, now and then

I look at that picture of the girl on this blog - that Whimsy person from a few years ago.

I'm not sure if I recognize her anymore when I look in the mirror.

I mean, I recognize myself: me, the person I am today.

But I don't see Whimsy-that-was, Whimsy-before-Bean, Whimsy-before-the-last-couple-of-years.

I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing.

Life etches its lines on our faces.

Over time, these lines weave a new topography.

My face tells the story of what was and what is.

That other Whimsy was a different person, and selfish in many ways (though I'm surely not a saint today, either).

And just like that old Whimsy, the Whimsy-that-is-right-now will appear to be self-centered and blind to the Whimsy-that-will-be in a few short years.

A few short years and we become new people.

At least one can hope.

The trouble that I face each day is to hold on to what is good about today while letting go of those things that I don't want to see in the mirror tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

a story in three pictures

Setting: A Portland hotel room.

It is afternoon.

A bored afternoon.
With nothing but a mother, a child, and a pile of daddy's business cards rescued from the desktop.
And then this:

Monday, April 5, 2010

thoughts while eating an oatmeal cookie from boise, idaho

Wildflour Bakery cookies from Boise, Idaho. Proof that my husband loves me. And also a little nod to the winner of Round Two of the GMBOA, Midnight Rambler (in Boise!). Stay tuned for the next round, Minions!

I love that he's called Chip, a name you don't hear very often unless it's in the snack aisle.
Utterly snackable.

I love that he's such a wonderful father. Bean couldn't have done better for his patience, his sweetness, his humor.

I love that he is musical. A natural-born musician. Can play a song after hearing it once. Loves to fill these four walls with the music he makes be it at bathtime, bedtime, or other times.

I love his calloused fingers (a musical sideaffect), his strong shoulders, his gorgeous dark hair, his golden skin.

I love that he doesn't like to see me in pain, but he lets me feel whatever is in my heart without question, without reservation.

I love that he will walk away from a fight if I ask him to.

I love that he brings me cookies from Boise, Idaho. Just because.

I love that he knows my favorite flower, ice cream flavor, hamburger topping, comfort food, past time, book, poet, author, shoes, tv show, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer character.

I love how he wants to know me better and deeper - how he delves into what interests me and asks me questions.

I love that is he strong, but doesn't use that strength to prove anything.

I love that he is sensitive, but doesn't need to convince anyone of it.

I love that he is gentle when needed, tough when necessary, and always always always good.

I love his way, his timber, his air.

I love that he says I love you in a thousand ways, in a thousand different circumstances.
I love this man.

Friday, April 2, 2010

white flag

Yes. That's a personalized fairy flag. I didn't make it today. Or yesterday. Or even recently. Done over a month ago, but isn't it cute? Also: strangely appropriate for the last 48 hours.

I'm writing from the fog of The Sick. It swirls around me in a heavy mist, a curtain that obscures my view of the world.

Tuesday had me cribside at midnight, comforting an ailing Bean. (She was not impressed with my comforting skills.) After several attempts to get her settled back in bed I made the fateful decision that nearly always comes back to haunt: I brought her back into bed with me.

I don't know why I think it's ever going to work. We haven't had a good night's sleep like this, she and I, in over a year. I think it has something to do with my fuzzy-headed night logic (maybe if I bring her back into bed with me, we'll both be able to get some sleep).

As you can imagine, we didn't. I clocked an hour total for me, just praying for daylight so I could sit up in bed and not feel sick about it (sitting up in bed before 4am tends to make me a little... eh... CRAZY).

I have some thoughts about The Sick as it relates to The Parent, but more specifically The Solo Parent, as I like to call myself during the week when Chip is away on business. But today is not the day to share those thoughts, since I was actually given strict instructions from my husband to "try not to talk to anyone else" after a very brief and very weird conversation via telephone. (My thought: so it's that bad, eh?)

So consider this, not a communication per se, merely a message balloon released skyward from a shaky hand:


(And one last parenthetical:
A huge thank you to the four wonderful bloggers who participated in yesterday's April 1st swap. They were tremendously good sports. And please excuse my snarky hot mess of an entry about Sesame Street. That was written/edited from the deepest darkest depths of The Sick Fog and boy, I was a little... hammered. It's nearly impossible to find the funny when you're functioning on an hour of sleep.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

i am not whimsy

Hello, my most Creamy friends!

I'm Alicia. I can normally be found here, but I hijacked The Creamery today in honor of April Fool's Day. Isn't that fun?! And also: zany?!

If you're looking for Whimsy, you might find her
here, or

Or maybe not. You just never know with us April fools.

I must say that I am very nervous to be posting here. I kinda feel like I won a big award, and now I'm onstage, and you all are looking at me funny because my pants are down around my ankles, and I'm wearing my Saturday underwear inside out on a Thursday.

It's a big responsibility to inhabit someone else's space for a day. And you lovely people all come here for Whimsy's unique perspective, which I obviously can't deliver.

So. If you don't adore me, let's just pretend that you, umm, do. And then Whimsy will come back tomorrow, and I'll go back to commenting on her delightfulness, and we can all pretend this blight on your holiday never happened!

Okay. Let's begin.

Today's hijackery is brought to you by Oh Crap, All My Kids' Birthdays Are Coming Up.

I have four children, ages 8, 5, 2, and 10 months, all of whose (and my) birthdays occur within a five-week period from the end of April to the beginning of June. (You do not even want to know how these children's births were planned with such military precision.)

There are a couple of ways this horror can manifest (beyond the four children part).

There's the Gift Problem, of course (alternately known as: there are only so many swimsuits and super soaking summer water toys you can buy children).

And then, there's the issue of children's parties. Revulsion of all revulsions.

And I'm not even talking about the screaming and the bouncing houses and the never ending NEEDS and the kool-aid and the cupcakes and the goodie bags and the potential for Technicolor Vomit. No, I'm talking only about my INABILITY to host even the smallest of gatherings.

If you come to my house (minions always welcome!), it's likely that I will not remember to offer you something to drink, for example. Because I'm just DUMB at this kind of thing.

Let me tell you a story. You may want popcorn (or a hand grenade).

My daughter, Anneke (Dutch, rhymes with "Hanukkah"), turned five last June. She wanted to invite friends to a party almost as desperately as I wanted to not host one. I had the brilliant idea of inviting everyone to meet at our neighborhood park, about a block from our house, for pizza, cupcakes, and fun on the playground. Easy peasy, right?

Here are some highlights:

Four (of about 25 kids from school) RSVPed. Of those who RSVPed, I think only one showed.

Everyone was EXTREMELY late. The first guest showed up around 25 minutes late, and the second appeared like 20 minutes after that. Imagine me, my spouse, and kids hanging out on the playground equipment, just waiting for people to show. Worrying for 25 minutes straight that NO ONE was coming, trying to act like it was no big deal to the kids, that it wasn't as late as it was. Sitting there with something like six pizza boxes, cheese getting spongy, not wanting to open them because THERE WERE NO GUESTS.

It turns out that, even though I was very clear with the park name and location, most of the people who showed up first went to the larger park about a mile away. One family immediately came over to the correct park but then left because THEY DIDN'T SEE A PARTY.

The kid of a friend of ours showed up only because his mom wanted to get him out of the house AFTER HAVING THE BARFING FLU.

Because almost no one had RSVPed, I had no idea how much pizza to order or how many drinks to buy or goodie tins to make. I knew I was overshooting, but I decided to err on the side of MORE, so I planned for about 20 people plus parents. We ended up with more than three entire large pizzas left over, and about 15 tins, which I think cost me about $5 to $8 each to put together.

The weather had been pretty mild, right up until the day of the party, when the temperature hit ONE HUNDRED TWO DEGREES. And I had erroneously remembered that the play area was covered. The kids were so hot, they literally just sat on the ground underneath the slides, not even really talking, like listless little zombies. Of course, I did what any sane person would do: I apologized to the parents. And apologized. And apologized. It was like a tic. "I had no idea it would be this hot. My idea was... I just had no idea it would be this hot." (In June. In Texas.) The apologizing clearly made everyone uncomfortable. Because I'm awesome!

My youngest one was five weeks old. I had him in a Moby wrap to facilitate my mad hosting skills. I kept thinking I was going to look down and see a baby dead from heat exhaustion. (I didn't. He's fine.)

About halfway though the "party", my two-year-old had explosive diarrhea that shot through his onesie and shorts. Since we were just a block away from our house, I'd made the decision not to bring extra diapers or wipes. I had to borrow - at my own party - an ill-fitting diaper and wipes from the barfing family. And then I had to LEAVE my own party to take my diarrhea kid home to change clothes. And instead of crawling into the closet under my stairs and crying in a corner, I had to RETURN to the party and pretend it was not the most horrible even I'd ever attended, much less hosted.

When it was all over, the barfing family commented on how the party could have been better. (I would give anything to remember those comments now, but I've inexplicably blocked them from memory. Possibly because of the humiliation aneurysm I'm sure I had later that night.)

One lucky party guest, in her own haste to get away, left her purse on a bench at the playground. We, the psychotic host family, then had to rifle through the purse to identify the owner and find her contact information. I'm sure she appreciated that as much as she appreciated having to RETURN to the scene of the biggest party FAIL in history for her purse.


We resolved, following that experience, never to host another children's party.

But. It's a new year.

It's April, and the kids have started talking about their birthday parties. I can't look at them, hope in their eyes, and tell them we won't celebrate them - their unique entrances into our lives - the way they want to be celebrated.

So, I'm thinking.

We can do this thing, people. Right? It can't be worse than last year. RIGHT?

And now I have a very sincere question for you creamy minions: What makes a good party? And more to the point, what makes a good HOST?