Monday, October 27, 2008

Wake Up Call

I've been nursing a bad cough and a sinus infection for the past few weeks, so I haven't been very inspired to do anything, let alone blog. I've worked through three days of antibiotics, though, so I'm feeling the haze lift. In fact, I've got about three or four blogs brewing in my head already this morning.

So let's start with this morning. Or any given weekday morning. My alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. I snooze it for 10 minutes, and on the second alarm, I get up and greet the cat, who is already waiting outside my door for her breakfast. We go downstairs, where the dogs start dancing around in their crate, way too excited for the hour. They head outside first, then come in to dishes full of kibble. The cat is already well into hers. After breakfast, they're routed back outside.

About 6:50, I head back upstairs to stir the little darlings. Mia first. I open her shade and try to talk her awake, but she doesn't budge until I give her a gentle shake. Then she growls and tries hard to ignore me. She's like trying to wake my sister, who could bite off your hand if you're not careful in the morning.

Over in the boys room, same routine. Shade open, morning greetings. Will sits up and smiles. "Good morning, Mommy," every day. Max dives under his covers or says things like, "Can I just skip school today?" (He's in Kindergarten, mind you. What does that mean for high school?) This morning, he tried to hide a smile while fake snoring.

I give a shout to Mia to get her moving.

Then I pick out Will's clothes because his morning goal is to get dressed in his bed before touching his feet to the floor. There was a day when choices like this would completely vex me, but I've come to realize that pre-pubescent boys do these kinds of things. They're just weird like that. (I made him gag this morning with some moldy tomatillos, and I think that was the highlight of his day so far.)

Another shout to Mia because it's highly likely she hasn't moved. Then I drag a protesting Max out of bed and help him dress, always with some random topic of conversation. Today: "July sure was a long month."

"Months are mostly all the same, Max."

"Well, July went a lot slower than September." [Just a reminder that today is October 27, so I'm not sure why July, or September....]

A final shout to Mia before the boys and I head downstairs for breakfast. She generally follows in another 5-10 minutes, unable to speak much before she eats her daily bowl of cereal.

Wondering where Tom is? He's still in bed, trying to ignore the noise. Funny how he doesn't move a muscle when my alarm goes off. Invariably, though, we hear the floors squeak upstairs long about 7:15. He ambles down and heads directly for the coffee. I've learned not to speak much to him before coffee. Mia hasn't figured that out yet, and any morning efforts directed toward Dad usually require me to put on my referee uniform. Until that coffee warms him up.

To his credit, he's always up to walk everyone out to the bus and to bring in the newspaper. I love to watch the kids walk our long driveway out to the bus. From that distance, I’m always awed that "Wow, those are my kids."

Will runs like he's in a race (which he probably is in his own head). Max often skips. Mia walks behind her brothers like she's herding sheep with a crook. Surely, she's instructing them to do something.

And the house sighs and goes quiet.

(628 words)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Yard-Sale Mom

Forgive me for yet another Max post, but the kid is full of non-stop material...

This evening while Mia and Will were at piano, Max and I went to the grocery store. He talked incessantly in the car the entire way there, of course (in his "party of one" mode, as Tom says.) At the store, he sat in the bottom front of the cart, near my feet, and talked up at me.

"Max, I can't think very well when you keep talking to me so much."

"OK, mom, I just have two things for you to buy -- one good, one bad. A small bottle of apple cider just for me and some colored Hershey's Kisses."

I ignored him because I was trying to find some vanilla extract, but I did hear him say this:

"Then I'm just going to start shouting 'yard-sale mom, yard-sale mom'."

"What does that mean?"

"You know, 'free mom, free mom'."

And he didn't mean "free mom from some shackles or a prison." He meant that he was going to give me away.

"Where did you hear something like that?" I asked him.


So I'm once again bewildered by this kid's mind. I didn't buy either the cider or the Kisses, and I clearly wasn't sent home with another family. But aren't I worth more than a yard-sale deal? I guess not when I’m up against a bag of colored Hershey’s Kisses.

(239 words)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

From Red to Blue

The kids and I picked apples today while Tom was jetting off to the West Coast. Perfect day for it. We picked a peck of red delicious and filled a grocery bag with "drops." Farmer Adams charges only $6 for a whole bag of drops, and frankly, the apples we found on the ground were in great condition!

In this morning's Burlington Free Press, I read an article about a family that is investing in a pellet stove to save on energy costs. I'm interested in that idea. I read another story about a guy who grows his own wheat so he can mill it and bake loaves for weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) bread shares. Also intriguing. (Wheat isn't easy to grow in Vermont apparently.) Then there's Chris Bohjalian's weekly column that's the highlight of the Sunday paper for me. He wrote about the change of the seasons today. Think of that -- a best-selling author writing in the Burlington paper every week!

The most interesting article, however, was the cover story: "Going from red to blue". Twenty years ago, Vermont was a red state. I knew we had plenty of old-timey Republicans in our state, but I didn't really know we were a GOP stronghold for most of the 20th century -- one of the most "reliably red states in the country." Shocking. The shift to blue started in 1962 with the election of the state's first Democrat as governor, but we didn't become true blue until 1992, Clinton's first term. Now, were solidly left.

So I'm feeling pretty proud of my new home state today. For having beautiful apples at $6 a bag. For having people who try to save on energy costs (and pollution) and who grow wheat for homemade bread. For a nationally-acclaimed author who shares his musings about nothing in our newspaper every week. And for being a state of blue -- even with a Republican governor. It's a good feeling to be happy with and proud of where you live.

(334 words)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Best Age to Become a Vampire

I'm nearly finished with the fourth book of the Twlight teen vampire love series. And my daughter asked me the other night what it would feel like to die and would I choose everlasting life like the Tuck family in Tuck Everlasting. Both of these events have led me to consider this: What would be the best age to be bitten by a vampire?

Interestingly, I don't think it would be now, in my 40s. While I'm certain I'm more self-aware at this age than any other, and I wouldn't trade the opportunity to be with the kids at ages 10, 9, and 5. But the early 40s can be tough, with hormonal and physical changes that really aren't very attractive. The old grey mare...

So what about those college years? They were something to remember. I still envy the UVM co-eds on Church Street in Burlington with their cell phones, skinny jeans, and waists. Not many responsibilities beyond what's happening that day.

The 20s? Probably not. They were fun but self-centered years with little sense of self, in retrospect.

The 30s? They were good. Time for babies with a body that didn't yet droop too much. I see moms on Church Street with their babies in their front packs, enjoying a lunch and no demands of a profession. Too bad I didn't know then what I know now -- about how luxurious it is just to spend a day with your baby, completely focused on their needs activities. I think these are the years in which I would want to be bitten. You still feel (and look) young, and you still have loads of energy.

So would I really choose everlasting life? Mia thought she would because "there are so many beautiful things to see and do in the world." I told her I would choose it too, but today, I don't really think I would. I wouldn't want to give up the chance to do and see all those things with a lifetime of experience, knowledge, and insight behind me. So in my future days, please remind me that life doesn't have to head downhill after 40. Those 30s were great, but maybe the 50s will be even greater. It really could be a completely exhilarating uphill climb until the peak. Let's hope so.

(385 words)

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Many Uses of a Placard

Tonight, all our breakfast places for tomorrow morning are already set with carefully created name placards. They were placed there by a little guy who danced into the kitchen like a wood fairy singing the Indiana Jones' adventure tune. "Da da da daaaaa. Da da da.

"Mom, you can also put it on your shirt as a nametag if you want. Just put some tape on the back and put it on your shirt. And the way you make the tape is to roll it around your finger.

"Or you can use it as a bookmark. I made it for all those reasons.” (Though I’m certain he thought that up on the fly.)

"That's a good idea, Max."

"Yeah, I know."

Contrast this with a day of dealing with budgets, decisions, a too-long To Do list, deadlines, and demands. Tomorrow, I swear I’m going to somehow work the Indiana Jones’ adventure tune into my day.

God, I'm glad I know a 5 year old.

(164 words. Missed my goal but not the simplicity…)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Who Said That?

"Autumn...I think it's the most contemplative of seasons."
(Five points to anyone who gets this reference!)
We're having one of those beautiful, classic, colorful autumn days in Vermont. I was riding in the car today, letting the sun fall on my face, and I fell into one of those perfect moments of peace. All photos for 2009 calendars will surely be taken today. Time to get out the Spice candles and put away the Fresh Breeze.
Also time to get out the Halloween decorations -- a favorite day for my young ones. I also love this holiday the most. For Halloween this year, Max will be a clone trooper; Mia, a magician; and Will, Frankenstein. Tom will load the pickup truck with hay bales, decorate it with twinkly lights, and drive a group of trick or treaters around the neighborhood. A family custom that the kids are already making plans for.

"If there's somethin' strange in your neighborhood...Who ya gonna call?"
(Four points for this one...)
We'll likely to choose pumpkins tomorrow, and maybe pick apples. I still need to clean a few things out of the vegetable garden and many things out of my perennial beds. The list of fall chores and traditions is long, but the time in which to do them is too short. It'll be only a few weeks until the…
"the witch of November come stealing."
While I’m not really anticipating the coming months, I do often enjoy the quiet of the winter and the inward focus it brings about. Time to knit!
“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep…”
What was your score?
(271 words)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Newman O's and Other Assorted Cookies

Today Max brought home two drawings for me -- one a family picture and the other a series of "colorful fenceposts." That's different. He says others kids in the class drew them, so he did too. He also brought home another diaper (just for himself); none of the other kids are making diapers yet, however.


I've become completely obsessed with a book series about teen vampires, werewolves, and love: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. The books aren't particularly intelligent, but the vampire lifestyle details are clever and the story is really sexy without graphic details -- and I appreciate that since they're clearly written for the age 12+ set. They heroine isn't a particularly strong-minded young woman, and the vampire love interest seems a bit possessive, so I'm not sure why I'm so taken with them (or why I'm admitting it). But I flew through the first two books last week and started the third last night, and I can't wait for the movie next month. Sometimes it's just plain fun to lose yourself in imagination. Even as an adult.


During my travels last week, I didn't blog. I was busy with work (not to mention those teen vampire books), but I also didn't have any inspirations. I was struck with the truth of needing to intentionally and mindfully make space for personal or "wholesome" pursuits. They definitely don't just happen in the wild course of any given day. I know the "enlightened ones" always say that. But they're right.

John McCain was such as ass in last night's debate. What's with his endlessly calling everyone "friend"? He's no friend of mine with his "freeze all spending but military" attitude.


Mia and Will bragged that Dad bought Oreos while I was in California. "Not those wretched Newman O's," said Mia. Wretched? I like Newman O's...

(311 words)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Max's Daily Gift

I'm home from California and finally finding a little space for some blogging...more on that tomorrow. Today, I have a odd story to tell.

Throughout Max's career as a Kindergartner, he frequently and proudly comes home with little drawings or packages of things. Always four -- one for Tom, Will, Mia, and me. We've received teeny tiny diagrams of the life cycle of a butterfly. And books. He's in a phase where he makes little books about things, held together with three or four staples. Apples are a favorite subject in his books. Yesterday, I'm not sure what it was we received, but it had apples drawn on it, and he tossed it around like a paper airplane.

Today, he didn't disappoint -- so he thought. Everyday, the first thing he does when he comes home from school is empty his backpack. First his lunchbox, then his presents for everyone. When he brought me mine today, I asked him what it was. "A diaper." (But of course.) A little paper diaper folder and taped with some coloring on that inside that represented...something.

I tried to get deeper into this diaper thing over dinner:

ME: "Max, what did you do in choice time today?"
MAX: "Worked at the writing table."
ME: "Did your friends make diapers with you at the writing table?"
MAX: "Nope."
ME: "You did that all by yourself?"
MAX: "Yeah."
ME: "Did your teacher know you made diapers for everyone?"
MAX: "No."

So I'm definitely vexed by this one. Having a hard time encouraging his creativity here. Why diapers? I objectively know the answer, and it has something to do with his age and gender. But it still seems a little weird to me. Wonder what we'll all get tomorrow. Probably nothing since I interrogated him today, but I think I'm hoping for another book about apples.

(308 words)