Friday, October 29, 2010
It feels like the longest day, turned into the longest week--- surreal and strange and as far from normal as can be.
It feels like I have so much to say, but when I find a spare moment (Thursday afternoon, the first opportunity for solitary thought) the words don't come.
Thursday morning I took a shower while Bean watched an Elmo DVD (sending thanks and brainwaves of love to dear Karen and Sharon for their AWESOME gift, again). I turned the water as hot as it could go--- watched the steam rise in waves off the tile. I breathed in deep long breaths, felt the steam come through my sinuses, give me the gift of clear breathing. And as my breathing cleared, I felt the clouds in my head clear too: a sense of tomorrow, a sense of next week and next month came to me without any pain, with only the promise that plans can give, which is this: possibility.
I felt the promise of possibility return, and that is so very good.
Bean and I are in New Mexico for another five days. We got here late Monday night (really Tuesday morning). Chip will be joining us over the weekend. There are stories I still want to tell: funny things and kind things and weird things. I need to wait a little longer for the words for those stories. And speaking of which, I have to tell you that this is normally my favorite time of the year, with not one but TWO exciting things to celebrate: Chip's birthday AND Halloween. Both of them have been heavily impacted by recent events. So. I made an executive decision and declared a delay in both of these proceedings. We WILL be celebrating Halloween (afterall, Bean already has her costume) and Chip's birthday, with a twist. After we all get back, and after we've had a couple of days to breathe and return to normal---- the celebrations will commence. And be broadcast and shared here at The Creamery. Of course.
Thank you for your kind thoughts and emails and prayers and texts and other various mental and spiritual and electronical bits of support. I have felt these gifts of grace lift me up and give me strength.
Now tell me all your plans for Halloween. And tell me what color I should make the frosting for Chip's belated birthday cake. I miss you all terribly, and would love to have a full-to-the-brim in-box.
Commence comments now!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
In response to yesterday's post.
One of the greatest pleasures of being married to Chip is how fun and weird he can make everyday things.
Case in point: SuperWhy.
When we all saw our first episode, we were on a trip - and somehow we kept missing Bean's daily allotment of Sesame Street. It must've been due to the time change, I'm not sure, but we'd get back to our room from breakfast, turn on the TV and get... not Sesame Street. Instead, it was Wyatt and his SuperWhy gang and all their adventures rewriting fairytales.
I sort of hated it from the very get go.
And then came the final song. And you know what? I hated that too. But it stuck in my head like superglue and I found myself singing it later that afternoon. So did Chip. However, in fine Chip fashion he decided to channel Eddie Vedder singing Hip hip hooray, the Super Readers saved the day.
It was so weird, so awesomely weird--- and I love it. It's one of my very very favorite things in life, listening to Chip sing this ridiculous song in an even more ridiculous voice, and when he starts making up words? Oh, if I could share it with you I would.
Now we sing this stupid song all the time. Like seriously, ALL THE TIME. I've listened to Bean sing it over the room monitor, when she's supposed to be asleep in bed. Chip has sung it in Home Depot (about buying a toilet seat--- lyrics were something like Hip hip hooray, we get to buy a toilet seat today. We're at Home Depot, we've got some options, we'll work together to spruce up the potty.) So. Now that you think my husband is adorable and also so very odd--- I'll tell you that the entire SuperWhy thing continues to bounce between annoying and freakishly charming for me. It depends on the day. I'm not a fan of rewriting fairy tales to get a different ending, but I do like the fact that they teach children about positive thinking, cooperation, and confidence. I also like that they stress the importance of reading--- how it opens doors, unlocks secrets, helps you to understand human behavior. That song, though. It can stay with me for DAYS. And not in a good way.
In other news:
The Cat in the Hat. I absolutely adore Dr. Seuss. Love him. His delightful illustrations, the stories, the characters. Love. So I was excited to check out PBS' The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That. I still do like the concept, and I can't believe they got Martin Short to the the Cat's voice--- but I've got to tell you after a while, it gets to be a little... annoying. True story.
Curious George. Cute animation. And again, points for the effort to make it educational. But seriously, I can't stand how people let this monkey do whatever he wants, wreaking havoc all over the city (and countryside). But what gets me the most, beyond anything else (including the man in the yellow hat sending George out BY HIMSELF, WITH MONEY, TO BUY DONUTS), is George's monkey voice. Like nails on a chalkboard, people. Annoying.
Super Grover Version 2.0. I support Sesame Street's efforts to teach kids about the scientific method, help them to problem solve and be more observant about the world we live in. But I don't think they needed to change Super Grover to do it. I loved him, the original Super Grover, with his fluttery cape tied with that puffy ribbon and his aluminum hat. He was just perfect. Now they've got him suited up in armor, people. ARMOR. And did I mention shoulder caplet thingamadoodads? I liked Super Grover just the way he was. But I'm a Sesame Street purist. I'm not so much a fan of Abby's Flying Fairy School either (tell me what THAT is supposed to teach). So I think I'm still fence-sitting about SGV 2.0 (oh dear me did I just give Grover a geek-chic ACRONYM? Kill me now.)
Let me just add that I'm totally on board with Ellie's thoughts on Sid the Science Kid. I kinda like Suzie and she comes up with some fun songs, but the montage at the school with the singing and the dance--- ARGH.
As for Pat Sajak? When I was trolling the internet looking for pictures of his 'do, I unearthed a whole debate about whether or not he's bald--- so I'm letting Mr. Sajak off the hook altogether. But I do have one request, if Mr. Sajak is listening - go with a slightly less bronzey-blond color, and we'll all be the better for it.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
(I'm taking a break from Real Content today. Come! Join me in the silliness!)
In my journey of parenthood, it has occurred to me that many of the things that are geared toward children straddle the line between annoying and freakishly charming so carefully that I can't decide if these things are just fine, or if I want to literally claw my eyes out and place them in a lead-lined box for the irritation.
In honor of this conundrum, I present to you a new feature here at The Creamery:
The new pbs Cat in the Hat, specifically Martin Short as The Cat. And more specifically still, his singing.
What do you say? Annoying or freakishly charming?
Curious George's monkey voice. The aeeee eeeee ieeeee.
Annoying? Or freakishly charming?
(You don't have to watch the whole 2 minutes and 9 seconds to make your choice)
I'm talking about the New and Improved, Updated and Tricked Out Super Grover (version 2.0!). And frankly, I'm not sure if I should even ask, because I have a very strong opinion about this one, but nevertheless: Is he annoying or freakishly charming?
SuperWhy. There's a laundry list of things to say here, a veritable cloud of, um, let's just say quirkiness from SuperWhy that is sure to either totally unhinge someone, or melt them into a puddle of cuteness. Let's leave it at: the song, the retelling of stories in weird and totally inaccurate ways, and this, which Bean has taken to repeating at odd times during the day: Peas and carrots, carrots and peas! Come out book, please please please!
What do you think? Annoying or freakishly charming?
And just in case you think this is limited to toddler pop culture: What say you about Pat Sajak's hair?
Annoying or freakishly charming?
My answers (and disclaimers) coming tomorrow. But I do want to know what you think--- and do you have any others to add to the list?
Monday, October 18, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
There was a moment on Tuesday when I was driving on the West Seattle Bridge on my way to my boss' home office. I had already taken the wrong exit, backtracked so unsuccessfully as to travel an additional five miles in the wrong direction (back over the bridge, north on I-5, turning around in downtown Seattle from the James Street exit, finally getting back on I-5 south to then get back on the West Seattle Bridge to exit on Admiral, my originally intended trajectory---30 minutes late). As I was finally, wonderfully, miraculously headed back to where I needed to be, I thought about how I will never fully be able to describe just how impossible it is for me to navigate in a car.
I can tell you that I got lost, but nothing can do justice to the snarled tangle of streets, my complete lack of back-tracking prowess.
As I drove up Admiral, looking out over the expanse of Puget Sound and the city, the sun reflected on the water and back up into my eyes. I considered the bright light, my shaky hands holding the steering wheel tight. I knew that I would never be able to convey the moment to you. Knew that I would never be able to capture the sight and sound and feelings of the memory. I can only say that I get overwhelmed with the reality of a place and sometimes I lose my way. I try to keep my head clear, to know directions and write them down. But sometimes even when I've been somewhere a dozen times I get off track, make the turn too early, find myself down on Harbor Avenue near the shipyards, and the only thing I can do is stop. Turn back. Remove myself to a place that is familiar. Start over.
There is nothing to stop my worry when it happens, nothing to still my racing heart and the cold sweat. I have a series of panic attacks that go on to invite a dozen more panic attacks and then the whole neighborhood has a block party of panic attacks. This is what it's like inside my head when I think about driving to a new place, wrestling with maps and carefully written directions. Agonizing over details and right-hand turns, losing sleep over an impending voyage down an unknown street.
. . . . .
There are the smallest moments in the afternoon that feel like miniature wormholes. Given the inclination and the opportunity, I could dive into them. They would swallow me whole, sending me into an alternate life, a universe of possible futures. In those tiny afternoon moments I have the clearest understanding of how I can write about the glimpses I get into possible choices I might make and the life I'd lead because of them. But as soon as I have a computer in my hands, as soon as I'm able to convey these magical visions of wonder, the words fail. I am left sputtering keyboard nonsense and the opportunity to describe this feeling of amazing possibility is gone. There's no way to tell you any better than that.
. . . . .
Several weeks ago I was sewing in my studio. Bean was hanging out with me, sitting on the bed, watching an Elmo DVD. It was a warm day, and warmer still inside my studio with the lights on, the sewing machine whirring. I had compensated by opening the window. Normally I keep a heavy wooden block in the window sill to allow only a small 4-inch opening, but on this day I moved the block, tossed it onto the floor, opened the window as wide as it could go.
With my back to Bean, I worked quickly on the sewing machine. I listened to her chatter and turned to check on her every few minutes.
And then things were quiet. Just a few seconds of quiet, really, though now it seems like the quiet swallowed the room until there was only my breath, my fingers on fabric. And then this: Bean's scream, a choking sob of terror.
I turned to the sound and could barely translate what I was seeing: no sign of her head or upper body, only her legs wheeling drunkenly over the windowsill. My baby was literally hanging out the window. A window, I might add, on the second story of our house.
In the second it took me to understand what had happened, I had already leaped over my chair and onto the bed. I had already thrown my body over Bean's, was pulling her back inside as my arms scraped across the broken window screen.
It was the screen and our satellite dish that saved her life.
There are so few words to use in this description. Phrases like 'just in time' and 'shaking with relief' and 'dumbest thing I've ever done' don't come close.
Here's what happened: my baby fell through the window screen. The screen caught on our satellite dish outside the window. Bean fell on the screen, her legs still tangled on the window sill, her upper body and head resting precariously, dangerously, hideously on the roof outside the window. I pulled her back inside.
And then I collapsed into a shaking, terrified heap on top of my daughter.
. . . . .
Sometimes no matter what I say or how I say it, it isn't enough. Sometimes there are no words to describe what has happened or how I feel about it. In retrospect I can use words like humbled and grateful and so very very lucky. But even with all the time that has rolled between that horrible day with the window and today, I can't tell you the full story. I can't describe it, can't realize it, can't tell you because it is tangled in a place in my brain where no words live. Where there are only pictures and horribly raw emotions.
This is the place for the stories I can't tell.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Grandma Condie was the invisible strength behind the farm. A tiny woman. A gentle woman. A quiet force to be reckoned with. I never saw her with a hair out of place. She was well-groomed and beautiful. More often than not, she had the perfect shade of lipstick to match her dress. Grandma kept a box in the basement for her granddaughters. It was filled with old shoes and dresses, small tubes of lipstick and rouge. Tiny bottles empty of their perfume. Grandma baked her own bread until she was in her late eighties.
I think back on these snatches of memories I have of my grandparents and relish their warmth - rubbing my cheeks with their faded soft surface, even as I watch Bean building her own memories of her grandparents.
She has stayed up late, eaten chocolate and cookies, sampled juices of all kinds. Quietly I have closed my eyes and let Grammy and Grampy spoil Bean in their own way. She has eaten ice cream for dinner, cake for dessert. She has been tickled and hugged and kissed. I have watched her crawl into the laps of her grandparents and ask them for different toys, different snacks, different amusements. They have obliged every time. I understand that this is their role. This is what a grandparent does.
Mom invited Bean to pick pears with her the other day. She took Bean's hand in hers and lead her into the backyard, coaching her to carefully place the fruit into a box. Alice's definition of "careful" was a little more forceful than recommended. I winced as each pear was chucked exuberantly into the waiting receptacle. Mom laughed as I apologized. "It's okay. Don't worry about it. She's just fine." Here was Bean, smacking pears together like cymbals. And here was my mom, reaching high on the ladder to gather the last summer fruit, laughing.
This is the gift of a grandparent: their warm presence, their waiting offers of delight and comfort, their willingness to please. Sourdough waffles. The Price is Right. Tiny tubes of lipstick. Frilly dolls on a pink bedspread. And pears---- picking pears in the sunshine.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
In case you harbor some romantic notion that I'm Motherhood Perfection On a Stick, or something equally appalling, I present to you my latest and greatest failings as a human being.
If perfection was contained in a score of 100 on the Universal Scale of Human Perfection, I lowered my score to considerably respectable levels yesterday.
(Also: I love you and I'm very tired.)
. On day seven kajillion of the road trip to end all road trips, I found myself snapping angrily at anything and everything my family did. Chip chewed too loud: GLARE. Bean spilled Fruit Loops on the floor: HUFFING AND SIGHING. Del Taco chicken strips were deemed inedible and tasting entirely of deep fat fryer: CHAOS ENSUES. Bean decided that the last five minutes before we were about to get out of the car for lunch to be the perfect opportunity to remove her shoes and socks and then toss them wily-nily on the floor, underneath the seat: 10-MINUTE ANGRY MOTHER TIRADE. (- minus 15 points)
. Our last stop before home happened to be a lovely spot in Richland, Washington on the Columbia River. The view was gorgeous, the river was quiet and serene, and the hotel room was clean. And yet I found a thousand things wrong with it: a bathroom that barely fit the pack & play for Bean's temporary sleep quarters, a power outlet too far to said sleeping quarters for the white noise and monitor cords to reach, a television set surely manufactured sometime in 1988 that would not and could not show a clear picture of ABC or NBC. (- minus 9 points)
. I spent approximately 3.5 minutes attempting to open the mini-fridge from the wrong side. (- minus 3 points)
. Considerable muttering and swearing for approximately 3.5 minutes while attempting to open the mini-fridge from the wrong side. (- minus 5 points)
. I suggested that I could read out loud to Chip while he was driving. (+ plus 5 points)
. After reading to Chip for 10 minutes, I spent the following 90 minutes reading silently (and ferociously) to myself, ignoring all attempts at witty banter from my husband. (- minus 7 points)
. A walk down the river to the park next to the hotel was suggested by Chip to help us all unwind and relax a little. During the walk I was absolutely BESIEGED by tiny flying river gnat creatures set on invading my body through any orifice in my face (nose holes, ear holes, eye holes, mouth hole). I wasn't exactly quiet or kind in my running commentary to Chip as he walked next to me. (- minus 4 points)
. I got mad that the flying evil gnat creatures left Chip alone entirely. (- minus 2 points)
. And then I told Chip that I was mad because the flying evil gnat creatures left him alone. (- minus 1 point)
. When we got back to the hotel room I tried to open the mini-fridge from the wrong side. Again. (- minus 1 point)
It has occurred to me that I should have left this post up all week.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Well hello there.
You may recall a little something called the Golden Minion Box of Awesomeness. It's been making the rounds through the Minions and its current stop is with Alicia, of fabulous Bethsix fame.
Ms. Alicia will be giving the GMBOA away on Monday, and I can't stress to you enough just how fun and silly and amazing she is. Which means that she gives absolutely spectacular packages away. Seriously.
I should probably add, that this box is sort of my personal childhood wish and by participating in this contest, you are giving me the gift of my personal childhood heart. I dreamt of releasing a balloon with my name and address tied on a string - watching it float into the upper atmosphere - and then on some distant day, getting a postcard from China or Mexico or maybe even NEW JERSEY saying that my balloon had been found drifting in some little girl's front yard and she couldn't BELIEVE how far my balloon had traveled. But my balloon never made it that far. I can't say it even ever made it farther than the powerlines down on Marguerita Avenue. But the GMBOA--- my dears, it has been in several different locations so far, and I can't tell you how much I want it to just keep traveling and traveling. Please do throw your hat in for the honor of hosting the box. You won't be disappointed.
So here's what you should do, if you're interested in picking up that GMBOA for your very own (and who wouldn't be, right?).
1. Make sure you're a follower here of The Creamery. Just go join down there on the right.
2. Visit Bethsix on Monday to enter to win.
May the luck of the Minions be with you.
And for your viewing pleasure, because it's nonsensical but also funny, this is what happens when you tell your two-year-old that she can sit on the bench with Elmo. And she happens to be very tired.