Friday, February 15, 2008

Good Things Come in Small Packages

"I'll be 45 years old one day." - Me
"Yeah, well you'll still be short when you're 45." - Bird

Where'd that smart mouth come from?! I cannot imagine where Bird learned to be sarcastic, cutting, and painfully honest. It should be noted that I am five feet tall. Yes, five whole feet. That's 60 inches to you folks who aren't on the metric system (that was supposed to have been adopted worldwide oh, 33 years ago, as I recall). Mac Daddy is 6'2 for the record (really about 6'0 in person since he's a sloucher). My children will likely be taller than I am when they're 8. I will, however, always be the mom to an heir and a spare.

"Good things come in small packages" was my campaign slogan when I ran for school president in fiith grade (I lost.). I'm still waging the height war 30 years later.
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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love Letters

For some reason I recall this poem from Mr. Harrison's British Poetry class in high school. He made us memorize a lot of little quips ("O' Rose, thou art sick...Whan that April with his showres soote...Of mans first disobedience," the list goes on...) This one below by Coleridge never resonated with me until now. Perhaps because it's not related to any Grateful Dead lyrics like most of the other stuff we read. Mr. Harrison was a VW bus drivin', baggy corduroy and beaded belt wearin', bearded, duct taped shoed granola dude who loved teaching, poetry, and Jerry Garcia. He made poetry come to life for us in ways that few teachers could. He had a magical wackiness about him that was just the right mix of hipster cool and erudite professor for a classroom full of hormonal, know-it-all high school juniors.

Anyway, the following poem inexplicably popped into my head this afternoon. Our brains play tricks on us that will never be explained, so let's just chalk it up to one of life's great, marvelous mysteries. I found this befitting the day, "Love Day," as Bird calls it.

Answer To A Child's Question by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Do you ask what the birds say? The Sparrow, the Dove,
The Linnet and Thrush say, I love and I love!
In the winter they're silent -- the wind is so strong;
What it says, I don't know, but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving -- all come back together.
But the Lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings; and for ever sings he --
I love my Love, and my Love loves me!

To Bird:
I love your infectious laugh that inevitably leads to that hysterical snortle sound you make.
I love that you leave the pretzels when you eat Chex Mix.
I love your maddening inquisitive nature.
I love your wet, sloppy kisses.
I love they way you chew on your cheeks when you're concentrating.
I love when we curl up and read Shel Silverstein together, especially when you memorize the poems and recite them with me.
I love your smart ass attitude because I know that will translate into a confident young man who isn't a lemming.
I love that you blush and chuckle when I call you my first baby.

To Deal:
I love your sweet, sweet voice.
I love when you randomly clutch onto my knees and say, "I love you, Mommy."
I love your giant bug catcher smile.
I love the way you cross your ankles when you're deep in thought.
I love your happy, shy, sensitive nature.
I love holding your hand.
I love your giggle that sounds like a show tune when you're being tickled.
I love that you unselfishly live your life and are quick to give feel better kisses to anyone who's down.

To Mac Daddy:
I love that you love me despite myself, cliche as it sounds.
I love that you bake, and it's not from a box.
I love when you laugh so hard that you take off your glasses and wipe away the tears.
I love your pipes.
I love that you let me talk and talk and talk every night before bed, even though you've driven 800 miles and just desperately want to tune me out and sleep.
I love that you kiss us when you walk in the door, even before putting down your briefcase.
I love your wicked sense of humor that is all the more maddening because everyone thinks you're so nice.
I love that you make me better and happier just being in your company.


I love you to the moon and back again, boys.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Friendships Bloom in Unlikely Places

I've been reading the Owen and Mzee books to Bird and Deal lately. I'm pretty certain I enjoy them more than they do. What's not to love about a darling, tsunami-orphaned hippo and a crotchety 130-year old tortoise who become fast friends? I'm a sucker for animal stories and have sobbed, as in heaving, tears streaming into my cleavage sobbing, on more than one occasion watching Animal Planet. When Mac Daddy was in graduate school I would tiptoe into the den shaking in silent sobs until he gave me some love and calmed me down. This happened pretty much every night I watched Emergency Vet. Eventually Mac Daddy banned that show from our house. Now he's put a blocker on Animal Planet all together, and I fear that Discovery Health will be next. Sick kid stories make me sob like a three-year old whose peas are touching his chicken tettrazini on the plate (had I only invested in those cafeteria sectioned plates when Bird was three!).

Before I had children my cats were like my kids. I taught them how to sit for treats, and Capote even came when I called him. He really was a dog. Ask my mom, she abhors cats but even liked Capote. I wasn't one of those nutjobs who fed the cats off of fine china but I did spend a LOT of money buying prescription food. I was snap happy with my camera every time Casey and Capote cuddled on the windowsill or cleaned each other. I have hundreds of said photos, and oddly enough, no one ever wants to flip through those albums.

You MUST check out the Owen and Mzee books. Whether you have kids in your life or not, you'll be astounded at the story and photographs. It is sheer delight and one of the many joys I would have never come across had I not had Bird and Deal in my life. You can find out more and buy the books here. http://media.npr.org/programs/atc/features/2005/jul/hippo/tortoisehippo200.jpg

Dooce, if you can't get a hippopotamus for Christmas, this is the next best thing.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus!

My home state made me proud tonight. Obama handily kicked ass in Virginia. Throngs of young voters are supporting him. Let's just hope they stick around to vote in November and don't think of this voting thing as a fad.

Stay tuned for a future post about why I think Obama will make the future brighter for Bird and Deal. Because that's what matters to this voter at the end of the day.
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Monday, February 11, 2008

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I know my neighbors. Not just the folks on either side of my house. All of my neighbors on the street. And the next street. And the stLinkreet after that. I know more than their first names and approximate time they leave for work. I know them well; they are my friends. It's a lucky life to count your neighbors as your friends. For one thing, it saves gas since we're literally a hop, skip, and jump away. We never need to schedule playdates. All we do is open the door and let the kids run amok while we grownups enjoy a glass of cabernet, Blue Moon with a slice of orange for the tang, or Moscow Mule, depending on who's bartending.

I have four lots but just one house. Of course there are neighbors' houses on those lots. We literally just swing open the door, and the kid radar starts beeping furiously. All the children, ranging in age from 18 months to 11 years-old, run among all of our yards playing old school games. Freeze tag. Hide n' seek. Hopscotch. Blissfully, no batteries required. Our toys belong to the neighborhood. As long as bats, balls, sidewalk chalk, and jump ropes make their way to a toybox somewhere, it's all good. Bird and Deal are lucky to live in a true neighborhood. I grew up in a similar place. My folks didn't cart us around to activities or playdates. We skipped rocks in the creek in our backyard, sang the tunes from the remake of Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band using the retaining wall as a stage, and caught lightning bugs in jars handed out by Tracy's mom next door.

My neighborhood is a genuine neighborhood that invokes images of the days of yore. If you want to start a story with "Back in the day..." it's my neighborhood that your listeners conjure up. I'm not talkin' an artificial neighborhood with a faux town square clock tower. I'm talkin' a community with off kilter sidewalks, a little post office, an anti-Starbucks coffee shop, and privately owned local drugstore, replete with diner in the back. We walk to run our errands. We walk to the park. We walk just to see who's out and about when we get cabin fever. Bird and Deal benefit in so many ways. For starters, they're walkers, not whiners who act as if they're lugging 300 pound steel boots around like some suburban kids I see. They play with kids of all ages and learn to listen and respect adults who aren't mommy and daddy. They don't watch much TV. Their best friends live right next door. We even have Yogi the neighborhood dog who exhibits gracious patience everyday.

Why My 'Hood Kicks Ass (and why the subdivisions with their back decks don't):

We all have front porches. And we use them.

I have the keys to five neighbors' houses, and they have mine. Someone's there to feed the ornery cat when we're gone. Because she's so ornery we have to rotate the duty.

We literally go next door to borrow a cup of sugar, or a couple eggs, or a gallon of milk.

We cook extra meatloaf, spaghetti, turkey stew, or lambchops and share the wealth.

For 6 weeks after my kids were born neighbors signed up to bring us dinner. I'm talkin' home cooked (and sometimes home grown) extravagant meals, with dessert, wine, and a pair of arms to hold the baby so Mac Daddy and I could eat.

We have parties in the street. Lots of them. We even have a neighborhood lemonade stand that doubles as a tiki bar.

I know someone is watching my kids if I have to run inside to stir the chili, swap a load of laundry, or get ready for date night with Mac Daddy.

Since we don't have family in town, we rely on our neighbors for the occasional babysitting (like when I went into labor with Deal or the times we've had to take one kid or another to the ER in the middle of the night), an extra set of hands to move a desk upstairs, or for a few rounds of Yahtzee and beers. We take care of each other, and no one keeps a scorecard. Well, maybe the kids playing Mother May I do.

Tell me why your 'hood rocks.

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