Monday, June 30, 2008

Happy Happy Birthday Baby

Joshua, you are seven years old today. You don't know this, and one day it will probably make you a little bit queasy to think about it, but you were my only completely planned baby. Your dad and I see no reason to talk to any of you about this, and if you were really going to read this now, I wouldn't talk about it still, but I lost a baby before Calvin, and I lost another one before you. That very first pregnancy was a complete surprise, and it made us realize that yes, maybe we were ready to have a baby. Of course we really didn't have any idea what that would mean, but we took the plunge anyway and so in that way, Calvin was planned. But if it hadn't been for that first unexpected glimpse into the frontier of parenthood, who knows how long we might have waited.

Your brother was not a fun baby. It's a wonder he didn't ruin things for the rest of you. But somehow, by the time he was three, we felt brave enough to start again. In a completely uncharacteristic move, I planned and timed and got pregnant with a baby who would be born six weeks before the start of summer vacation. But then a few weeks into the school year, that baby slipped away. It was hard not to feel that with each pregnancy, the universe was sending me a new message. I already believed, because of Calvin, that I would have the baby I was supposed to have. Now I saw that I couldn't necessarily control when or how that baby would come to me. My timetable and carefully-planned maternity leave apparently did not jibe with your plans. I was sad, but I also knew with inexplicable certainty that you would come, on your own terms and in your own time. And you did.You are the child of mine who is the most temperamentally like my child self. As far as I can tell from my memories, I didn't really know or think much about where I was or what I was doing until I was about eight years old. You coast through your days smiling and easily made happy. Your funny, skipping little run makes it completely impossible for me not to grin. And even as your tendency to space out and tear things into tiny little pieces irritates and frustrates me, I can't help but remember the time I spaced out and drew in a library book at school and then cried when the outraged librarian brought me crashing back to the reality of what I was doing. The worst you are ever guilty of is just not thinking about what it is you are doing, and, well, I can't really fault you for that because you come by it honestly. Don't worry; you'll outgrow it.You will not outgrow the other tendency you got from me. You know, the one that allows you to be asleep as soon as you are horizontal. When you were smaller, every afternoon without fail, you would walk over to me, say "I ready my nap," climb up next to me on the couch and suck your thumb and twirl my hair and fall promptly and happily asleep. Just as that easy nap felt like your gift to me each day, I hope you will one day appreciate my gift of ready sleep. I only wish I could have passed it on to the other three!

Happy birthday, Joshua. I love you so much. You are my little composer and future rocker dude. You love a joke and to laugh. You sometimes forget yourself, but you never mean any harm, and that's all I can really ask for.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tattoo Redux, session #1

On my twentieth birthday, waaay back in 1992, I got a very 1992 tattoo. It was a thin, tealish-greenish vine with little purple flowers spaced along it encircling my right ankle. The details of the flowers were too much for their tiny area, and they never looked like anything more than little purple blobs, really. All the colors were sort of dark and muddied because the guy listened to my request that they not be too bright and cartoonish, but didn't take into account the fact that my olive skin scars darkly.

For years, I've daydreamed about getting the vine redone and made into something fuller and prettier. For a long time I thought it would be a grape vine, lush and twining. In the past year or so, I started thinking seriously of having it redone, and my vision moved from one of a realistic looking grape vine to a more stylized, Art Deco looking one. Then I could never really find an example where the grapes looked like I wanted, and I moved toward the idea of a Deco-looking flowering vine. For Mother's Day this year, my wonderful husband bought me a gift certficate at No Regrets. It was finally going to happen! While he was there getting his really cool compass tattoo a couple weeks ago, I got a chance to talk to Tony Max, whose book I had liked. We talked about my design ideas and looked on line at images that had elements of what I wanted, then set an appointment for yesterday.

Tony was all ready when I arrived and had drawn up a stencil for me. But when we started talking about color, I was disappointed to hear that all of the vine parts would have to be black. I had thought when we talked, he'd said they could be dark green, but now he was saying that just wouldn't work as cover for the old tattoo. He suggested that if I didn't want a black vine tattoo (which at one point was what I considered getting, but I decided it would make me feel even more silly in feminine clothing like dresses), I could get groupings of photo-realistic flowers all around my ankle, and the only black would really be the shadows and spaces in between other elements, which would work nicely as cover. He brought me a book of flower photographs and I picked out some that I liked. The idea was actually similar to one I've been thinking about for a whole different tattoo, so it didn't feel like too much of a leap.

Long story short, I liked what he drew up, and here's what it looks like after the first session. I spent about two and a half hours of actual needle-on-skin tattoo time yesterday, and it will take another session of almost that long to color in and shade all the flowers. But I love it! I won't get the next part done until after our beach trip because it wouldn't have enough time to heal before then.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Father's Day Gift in action

BD got his long-coveted new camera and took it for a spin at cocktail hour last night. Here are a few of my favorites (and hair shots for those of you who haven't seen the new cut). This photo essay will be called "Mostly About Me."

Juicing limes. No, that's not a euphemism.

Someone is being very entertaining in the kitchen.

This just in: being forced to pet dogs makes your boobs bigger. If only Judy Blume had known, I'm sure she would have told us.

I'm told this gesture is all me.

Okay, one really cute one of Genevieve.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer Lovin'

You may have noticed that we're keeping summer hours over here at chez Molassy. That means I'm not around so much, although I'm really trying to avoid the total desertion that both of you may remember from last summer. The kids and I have been spending our days sleeping in and eating late breakfasts of Cocoa Crispies, swimming at the Y, swinging (and sweating!) in the back yard, and, Genevieve's current favorite, playing with pans and buckets of water on the front porch. Who knew that transferring water from an empty gallon ice cream bucket to a pan with flaking non-stick coating via teaspoon could be so rewarding? Who cares if it makes our front porch look like the Clampetts' before the move? Good times.

The kids are enjoying the break from school. Genevieve, especially, is thrilled to have Mama full time to boss around, cling to, and play with. Her most fun developmental leap right now is the emergence of empathy. If she enjoys something, she now realizes that other people might enjoy it too, and that their enjoyment is desirable. So she will say "Mommy rubbing my back" which usually means her tummy, and then after a minute she will scramble up to a sitting position and say "Do Set-Set!" prompting me to call Somerset into the room. This has worked out nicely for Somerset, as she is getting a lot of belly rubs and cradling baby-style as I sing the mockingbird song to her on Genevieve's command.

All the time with the kids is great, but G's bursts of kindness are interspersed with extreme clinginess and tantrum throwing two-year-old style, which has started to wear on me a bit. To remedy that, I have purchased a little weekly chunk of freedom for myself at the rate of $10 an hour. Our new once-a-week sitter, home from college for the summer, started today. I went to the regular Monday Monkeyless lunch with BD and the gang. After being unable to attend all year, it's fun to finally be able to go. Next week I've shifted the day to Tuesday so as to have childcare while I get tatted up. Yeah, I know it's sexy the way it looks like my right foot is sewn on, but the old green, skinny vine is being covered over by a new, prettier, much more tendrilly and climbing design. Pictures to come...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Just in case you mistakenly thought of me as smart...

Let me tell you what I did today.

After BD cut the grass this morning, the kids pointed out how the side of my van was all plastered with stray bits of grass and dirt. We decided it would be fun to wash the car and get wet in the blazing, unseasonable-even-for-Memphis heat. I went in the house to get a big pan (the plastic bucket is mysteriously bottomless) and soap and rags, then came out and pulled the hose out from the uncooperative reel. Remembering that I was out of washer fluid, I decided to fill the receptacle with the hose before I did anything else. In the winter I use real washer fluid but it's not like it has a chance to freeze anytime in the next four or five months.

You may see where this is going now. I popped the hood, propped it up, and looked around at the various caps that opened onto fluid receptacles. I knew that putting water in the wrong one would be bad. I saw two that were obviously the wrong ones, and one right under the windshield that had no discernible markings (that I could see), and after looking over the whole works one more time, I chose that one, uncapped it, and put the hose to it. The opening under the cap seemed very small and I sensed without it really registering that this didn't seem right. After a few minutes I stopped, looked around under the hood some more, and saw what I'd missed--the actual washer fluid receptacle. Crap!

I alerted BD to what I'd done and he came over to see that I had, in fact, put water where only brake fluid is meant to go. I went ahead and filled the actual washer fluid tank, and then the kids and I washed the van before I headed out to the oil change place a few blocks from our house. There was a young female employee greeting cars as they pulled up to the bays, and when I told her I needed my brake fluid drained and replaced, she shook her head and said "Oh, we can't do that." I think this is a lie, but I went on about half a mile or so down the road to a bigger tire/service place. I could tell the guy wanted to turn me away because they were so busy, but then he seemed to take pity on me because he called the mechanic in and asked if he could do it. He could. "You'll have to just leave it here and come back at four because we're so covered up," he said kindly.

I started to call BD to come get me, but reconsidered when I remembered the kids playing happily in the neighbors' sprinkler with their son. Instead, I went next door to Krystal, bought a pomegranate freeze, and set out for home on foot. It really wasn't a bad walk in spite of the heat, and the occasional honk from passing cars reassured me that if I have to be dumb, at least I'm still passably hot from a distance if the car is moving fast enough. The only downside to the walking was that I had on flip-flops. I was just recently told by a podiatrist not to wear flip-flops or any other cheap, unsupportive shoe if I'm going to be walking or on my feet for any period of time. At least these were the ones with the inch-thick foam footbed that actually does have some arch support built in, but the top straps are rubber and the left one had rubbed skin off the top of my foot by the time I got a few blocks from the house.

Once I made it inside, I stripped down to my skivvies and lay spread-eagle under the fan for about five minutes to cool off. In spite of the heat, loss of foot skin, and acceptance of the fact that I'm not very smart, I felt proud of myself for cleaning up after my own mistake without creating a hassle for anyone else. As it turns out, it's probably going to cost the exact amount I just received for my first paid writing gig. So I'm the only one paying for my mistake, in every sense of the word. At least that's something, right?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

You Have Been Here and You are Everything

When I was fourteen years old and just starting tenth grade, I was not what anyone would call a happy or well-adjusted girl. I also wasn't as badly off as I probably liked to think back then, but a summer's worth of Dead Milkmen and Violent Femmes will make you morose if you're not careful. I was, however, a lucky girl. In fact, I was the luckiest girl in the world. I just didn't know it yet.

When I was fourteen and just starting tenth grade, I met the love of my life. I met the boy I would grow up with and have babies with and, I have no doubt, the man I will grow old with. And fourteen years ago today, I married him. It was the best and smartest thing I ever did. Every good and beautiful thing in my life involves him and grows from our relationship.

Happy anniversary BD. Your unwavering willingness and ability to love me have, do, and always will astonish me.