Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuck San, Ari Zona

Today, I am broadcasting from here:

Straight from the shadows of the saguaro, poolside, margarita in hand.

I am at the Hacienda Del Sol and am rubbing my nose in it all.

Except maybe this, cuz that would hurt.

And all of these too. But we're seeing so many cool things in the desert of Arizona. How's that for trite?

Cactus that look like brains.

And orange things.

And more orange things (hedgehog cactus).

And purple things.

And purple things with yellow attached to them.

And red things (bottle brush tree)

And polka dot things.

And things that look like giant asparagus.

And prickly things with funky nests in the middle made with fuscia colored feathers.

And plain old prickly things too.

It's pretty spectacular....this desert life.

And because it's my birthday and because I can, I'm sending five lucky winners to the Hacienda Del Sol hotel for a long weekend.

Just leave a comment telling me if you've ever been to the desert.

Oh, how I'd love to do that. Someday maybe.

But for now, you'll have to live vicariously. Yea, through me. And maybe tomorrow I'll show you what I ate. And I'll describe how it all tasted. And right now this margarita tastes just about right...what, with all this dry hot air.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Night the Games Began

I don't know why I was absorbed in the enormity of the night. It was huge. I mean, I'm talkin' ginormous. I'm still in shock by how it took me over with its sheer significance. I realize how some parents would be all like, "whatever, it's one more thing on the 'shit to do list' ". But as I was driving down to the boys' first T-ball practice (EVER) I was slapped in the face with the reality of the fact that this is the first of THOUSANDS of practices and games to come. I mean we are at the starting line, the very beginning, and we're looking up the mountain.

I couldn't help but picture the cleats.

And uniforms.

And baseball caps. And baseball gloves. And baseballs. And soccer balls. And shin guards. And hockey gear. And maybe lacrosse sticks. And oh shit, that means cups. And jock straps. And what if they wrestle, then they need head gear and lots of steak and maybe they'll get elephant ears.

And coaches. And teammates. And mandatory meetings. And team dinners.

And practices. And games. And away games. Like, far away.

And then I saw their smiles. Even though they didn't know what they were doing.

And then I saw that they were together. Even though they were fighting over the ball.

And then I saw how they instinctively knew how to hold their gloves up to block the sun.

And how they knew how to instinctively screw around in the field.

And jerk off while waiting to bat.

And then came the whiffing.

And the lesson.

And more whiffing.

And finally some contact.

And then it hit home for me. The big leagues. Paul Bunyan and me in box seats. Front row, third base line. Our 1,003rd game. Me with my pop corn. Paul Bunyan with his peanuts. And the general din of the crowd behind us. Some of them wearing jerseys with one of our son's number on it. Maybe, too, our gigantic long last name. And me remembering this first T-ball night. Telling it to Paul Bunyan in chopped sequences. But he can barely hear me. But I tell him anyway...how the sun was starting to set. How I was embarrassed, at first, that I hadn't taught my boys how to throw or catch yet. The way Timmy held onto to his little sack because he needed to pee. And despite this, how he learned to hit the ball without being able to see it from under his helmet. The fear in watching Auggie get hit with a fly ball in the chest and the deep holding of my breath to see if he would shake it off, or come flying to me with tears under his cap. The pride in seeing him try try again. And then, also too, the next morning...hearing them both ask if there was T-ball practice again tonight. And my excitement that maybe they were hooked.

I'll never forget this night- the night the games began.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Miss Cally's Sweet Voice

Weekends are for sleeping in and maybe letting the kids watch a little of the boob tube so you stay in your holy t-shirt and equally religious underwear and climb back into bed to cuddle with your dog. Or husband. Or partner. Or whomever. Or whatever.

I lerve weekends.

Especially now that I'm a working girl.

Especially since I LOATH waking up my children on school days.

Especially since I'm inherently lazy and love lounging.

Especially, well you get my drift.

So last Sunday morning I got a chance to lounge and then lounge some more, and then maybe I lounged a little more. But no one saw me, so no one can hold it against me. I was able to lounge because my kids weren't here. They were, like, over there. Across the valley, and over the river and through woods, sleeping in rooms separate from our house. In rooms attached to Katy and John's house, separate from our house.

It was delightful. Paul Bunyan and me (yea, we) actually got to go on a date. Like, a real one. It included VERY good beer, and delicious chili, a complete conversation, live music, some dancing, and we also got to uncover some long lost eye contact and forgotten laughter. And since Paul Bunyan was at the mercy of me, I forced him to watch me inhale Nectar's famous gravy fries on our half hour drive home. I'm sure it was quite attractive.

And then if it wasn't for the dogs wanting breakfast. And if it wasn't for Mike's call at 8 telling Paul Bunyan that daylight was burning. And if it wasn't for the fact that they made a plan to go look at some "logs" that early in the morning, which made Paul Bunyan actually leave our "lying in" morning all to myself. And if it wasn't for the fact that little Ruthie called to see if Claire could play at 8. And if it wasn't for the cat who continues to use my toilet as his watering hole. And if it wasn't for my damn dog who loves to bark at the air...my lounge session would have been perfect. But then again, nothing ever is perfect in my critical mind.

Well, John and Katy got to have their night out this weekend. I know the swap wasn't fair. But shhh, they haven't said anything. We got their EXTREMELY easy and super worldly cute 15 month old. They got our high energy, sometimes violent, headstrong threesome. Supposedly, they don't mind.

Cally came, she conquered our hearts, ate us out of the house, and then left (with a new pink potty, new tricycle, the cutest little orange pea coat that Claire used to wear, and of course, a ski helmet).

I heard Cally at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning cry out. I realized that she probably would fall back asleep in the dark of the early dusk, but I pulled out the comforter and cuddled up on our guest bed right next to her (our old) Pack n' Play. She rolled and grumbled and farted but didn't really rouse until 6.

And then she said this:

And all the world seemed right. Because I don't care whose kid this is, if they sound like this you can bring them over to spend the night any night. And they can wake me on a Saturday at 6 a.m. whenever they want. I guess maybe it would get old after awhile. But jeez, I couldn't get enough. She's so flippin' cute. And I think, although he might not admit it, that it almost made Paul Bunyan consider reversing his vasectomy.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two Crappers for the Price of One.

I'm feeling very soggy and stinky being back in the cloth diaper pale. It's a beautiful thing to see babies in big bulky diapers but it has brought back some raw memories of washing, and washing, and soaking, and washing, and adding boiling water, and washing, and hanging to dry. What a cycle.

The good thing about using cloth is that it can (oftentimes) lead to quicker potty training. Timmy was two and a half. Here he is X-mas 06' with some new tighty whiteys on.

And of course by maintaining that two pound advantage over his brother, he continues to learn and succeed at things two months faster than his identical little brother.

But I remember one distinct day, in that two month period after Timmy learned to poop on a toilet and before Auggie did, we went out on a little adventure. We were in Play It Again Sports. I was probably trying to find skates for my little hockey prodigies. Because, well, they're both going to be stars...Dallas Stars. And well, why not start 'm up before they can shit on a toilet?

Now, the good thing about having identical twins who are on the same biorhythms is that they shit at the same time every day (or most every day). I got home from doulaing last night and they were both on the crapper (luckily we have three of them). Not being surprised, I was happy to have them sitting so I could steal a kiss.

But on this particular day, in Play It Again Sports, in the winter of 07, my two little shitters had to take a crap at the same time. I was in a little bit of a bind. The Play It Again shitter was in the very back of the store, in the janitor's closet. I'm sure you've been in one yourself- not wanting to sit or touch ANYTHING as you might contract some unknown bacterial disease and die of dirtytoiletitus. But you probably also know, if you've ever potty trained a toddler, that when they say they have to pee or poo, you gotta GET THEM TO A SHITTER. FAST! So I politely ask the man if we can use his crapper and he, noticing the fear in my eyes, says, "sure."

But at this same time Auggie says he has to poo too. Of course. Now, if you've ever had a toddler who likes to poo in his diaper you know that sometimes they like to poo in particular places. You can't ask a toddler to take a crap wherever YOU want them to. It doesn't work. So, as I'm running with Timmy to the dark janitor's closet in the back of the store, Auggie's headed for the completey opposite corner to take a poo in the comfort of his own dark fort under the men's hockey pants.

And because I want my son who is learning to poo on the toilet to take his good old time, I've told him never to rush. But rushed, I was, as I ran past softball gear and downhill boots, many times over, checking on both of my shitting sons.

"How's it goin under there?"

"How we doin' back here?"

"Almost done under there?"

"Ready for a wipe back here?"

"Yes? All done? Good, let's go wipe Timmy."

"Timmy, All done? Good, let's go change Auggie's diaper in the car. Now, wash your hands."

"And you there. You wash your hands too. You may have pooped in your diaper. But you touched that nasty door handle."

And that, my friends, is the end of my shitty tale.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'll Learn to Love This Thing

When I was a little girl I remember heading out to play in the dark of winter all by myself. I breathed in that big starry night and made angels in virgin snow and crafted dreams while billowing heavy breath into the cold New England air.

And every year since I've danced in the first snows of fall. I watch the landscape get buried and then I dig out my Le Creuset. I boil stews and chilis and stir them with homemade wooden spoons like a witch over her cauldron. I feel a blanket cover my soul and I sink down in my couch and hibernate under the warmth of a wood fired stove.

I don't miss the open windows, free breezes that would blow the curtains if I had them, bugs. I don't mind the shortened days- night is when I seem to hear what my brain is trying to say anyway. I don't feel the loss of coyote calls or hooting owls in the night. I can't seem to get myself to regret not being able to swim with the leeches. I don't miss seeing my body or having to shave half of it. I don't feel any loss when winter comes drifting in under the door.

I love pulling out the hats, finding the mukluks, seeing if the Johnson Wool still fits. I crave the cozy and the way the stars seem to sparkle brighter, especially when there is no moon to hide their shine. I love when the pond freezes over and we walk on water. The smell of smoke in my hair and on my fingers after I start a fire. Waking up too hot under my down comforter. Wearing my bathrobe all day.

It's unfortunate that I feel a sense of loss when the snows melt. It always feels like it happens too quickly and that we need just a few more weeks of cold. I'm not ready for the arid breeze, the sound of the peepers, the smell of earthworms. I'm not ready for the mud to be tracked in on dog's feet, or kid's sand in the bathtub, or thunder storms leaving living, breathing, frightened detritus at the foot of my bed. Or to see the parts of my body that resemble a man.

I want to stay huddled and buried and beneath the weight of whiteness. And its quiet. And its solitude. And its cleanliness. And its crispness.

I realize this is all assbackward. I should be taking pictures of the forsythia blooming, rejoicing in the ability to breath in deeply the sweet scent of alpaca shit wafting up from the fields below us, planting lettuce in my workable dirt and eating the grit from underneath my fingernails. I know this.

And so I will try, I suppose, this year to go nose first into the ground, twisting unnaturally onto my back, and scratch my ass in the fresh grass like my dogs do. They wiggle themselves down hill until they can't slide anymore and then they get up to shake it all off. I think it works for them. However, I know they are a little sad too that winter is gone because they're the only ones out there with me in October when the first heavy snow flakes land on our noses. I just can't get them to stay on their backs long enough to make angels in the virgin snow.

I just can't help myself.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Me as Doula= Crazy

So, I'm a doula. I know. It's weird. I'm, like, supposed to be a teacher. And a fiber artist. And a mom. And a wife. But I'm a doula. Post Partum Doula. Even my spell checker doesn't recognize the word doula. It underlines it in red, like the word isn't supposed to be in my vocabulary either. I don't like the word. Or its connotations. I think so many people think we're all hippy dippy lovey dovey crunchy munchy people. And well, I'm not.

I've worked with the same wonderful, funderful family since Sept. 28, 2009. Their story is sweet. Julie was pregnant with her first child late in her child rearing life. I think she was 39. She carried the baby beautifully. And on a cold fall night she started to labor. They packed up their powerfully big Newfoundland into their powerfully small silver Honda Civic hatchback and headed South to a smaller hospital, rather than going North to our big Burlington Trauma Center hospital. She delivered Phoebe later that night. Phoebe was not alive. I often try to picture how this tiny woman, who carries her heart on her sleeve, could have managed to survive that night. And then I see, too, her toweringly tall husband curled up with her on a hospital bed made for one. And I've heard that the doctor who delivered little tiny Phoebe into the world let them sneak in their powerfully big Newfoundland doggie Uma into the sanitary maternity room, so they could all spend the night together huddled up against the harsh realities of the morning.

And then on came the surge to mother and father. And then off to Guatemala to find a son. And then here comes Hector with his high energy and jet black hair, and maybe a case of ADHD on the side.

And then comes the urge to mother and father again. And Ebbe, born from the same loving space in which Phoebe was never forgotten, came into this world with blond Scandinavian heritage running thick through his blood. And those Scandinavians are known for their willpower and stubbornness. And lots of kisses too.

And then comes the urge to push. A surprise. Mother and father had given all their baby things away and had gained the chance at the possibility of potentially maybe seeing their lives before kids show up at the door. But no, not yet. Because Baby Astrid, with hair like a hedgehog, came knocking instead and now sleep and the art studio and the paintbrush will have to wait five more years.

And I come in and walk that baby around the house, looking at family photos, and all of Julie's amazing artwork, making my own treads through the carpet, hoping that the gas bubble in Astrid's belly will fly out one of her orifices, so that she will sleep soundly, so that the family can enjoy a dinner, that I made with my own two hands, so that they can nourish their bodies and souls, so they can make it through another sleepless night, without biting each other's heads off. And then I do the laundry and the dishes. And then I leave.

I have been with this family for 6 months. And it has been a pleasure. And I will keep their stories in my heart. But now I must move on.

Yesterday, I started with a new family. They have a sweet story themselves. One slightly similar to mine own (sorry, this is how Ebbe talks...mine car, mine mittens, mine life, mine story...see I'm bringing them with me). Josie and David have a two year old boy....just turned two last Sunday. Just entering the third year of his life; I mean, just walking through the door. And they, too, have the urge to mother and father again. So here comes a girl. And, oh the tears and the joy. And then comes the urge to push. A surprise. Here comes another girl. And, oh the tears and the joy and the...fears.

Twin girls. Identical. A surprise.

I'm already carrying their story with me everywhere I go. Can you imagine not knowing? Not planning? Not seeing until they were there in your arms!

I'm dishes. I'm laundry. I'm swaddling. I'm remembering that time in my life. And all the cuddling and feeding and diaper changing and resting and running around with Claire- it all came back to me last night when I got home from my first day on the job. And all I could do was go to bed.

But I woke up this morning remembering Katy Webster. She used to run a business called the Chef Next Door and it was her who I hired to bring me meals. I peeled back the stickers she used to label all her plastic containers with and I reattached them to my three-ringed binder of recipes. I didn't ever want to forget her love. Braised Chicken Thighs, Salisbury Steak, Shepherd's Pie... I still dream about all this nourishment. Sometimes I wake up in her lasagna. Her food was spectacular, and maybe I'm exaggerating here but it's because it's what my soul needed most.

I know I'm more than just a meal to these families. Well, at least I hope, when some time has passed, that they don't dream of swimming in my meatballs. I know for sure my new family won't because they're vegetarians. The hippy dippy lovey dovey crunchy munchy kind.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Haircuts

I opened up my email inbox tonight to find two very cute pictures of friends' kids all dolled up for Easter Sunday. They were dressed for the day...cute white dresses for the girls, matching blue polo shirts for the boys. I'm sure it's a wonderful tradition. One that I never had to partake in as a child.

Paul Bunyan had to work today...Easter Sunday. We're all pretty used to him working on the holidays. As a nurse, that's just how it rolls. So I went down to my parent's house this weekend and traveled all the old roads- passing by old boyfriend's houses, reminiscing about kissing whom in which cemetery, recalling the fondling on which slide, in which park, with which boyfriend. You know how it is.

We rode bikes. Got dirt in our eyes. We scraped our hands and knees on pavement.

We did not get dressed up to go to church.

Some of us did, however, get our hair done yesterday.

It was time for our Spring cuts.

And this cat chose to have his done the same way as last year.

Except this year he wants to dye it purple.

And he wants to make sure it really stays stickin' up high.

And he wants to have the attitude to go along with the mohawk.

And well, this guy, I think he's moving on.

To a more sophisticated look.

He was, however, a little jealous when I spent our Easter Sunday evening trying to glue his brother's hair spikey with Elmer's School Glue. So, maybe next year he'll think about it and choose a more unconventional haircut for Easter.

Post script: I took this photo the morning after the Elmer's glue affair. I snuck in to see if everything was still standing. But more importantly, I felt that he should be outed. You know, in case he comes at you with the whole "I'm a tough mohawk-wearing five year old" attitude. You'll know the hard truth.