Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Hannah-ism of 2010

Leave it to Hannah to save the best for last.

Back in the Spring, I posted Hannah's reaction to the news of the impending divorce. One of the best bits was her remarking that it must be almost dating season (which, she later told me, officially began on the Summer Solstice). Today she and Charlotte decided that, as we were going to a New Year's Eve party, we really needed to get dressed up for it and so, "Really, Mom, go and try on all of your fancy dresses. We'll help you choose."

On the third dress, the zipper got stuck and I had to ask Hannah to help me with it. With only the faintest sigh of exasperation she remarked:

"You know, if you'd get a boyfriend, you wouldn't have to ask me to do this."

Charlotte agreed.

"Yeah. Go get a boyfriend, Mommy."

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Awesome Hannah-ism

Last night at dinner, Charlotte decided that she didn't like what was left of her meal. Rather than just saying something like "Mom, I'm done" or, "Thanks Mom, but I really don't like potatoes," she went straight for "Don't ever make these again. No me like them." And then she said it again, louder. And again. And . . .

I didn't get a chance to interrupt, but Charlotte doesn't like even the thought of not getting her point across, the thought that someone might not be paying attention. And she was tired. So we went pretty much from having a nice, fun, chatty dinner to Charlotte screaming and being removed from the table.

After I (gently) dumped her in her bed and returned to the table, Hannah said:

"Man! I do NOT want to get pregnant!"

See? Silver linings everywhere! You just have to look.

Monday, November 22, 2010

'Tis Done

My divorce is final today. Which, even after so many months, was actually a surprise because, due to a clerical error by his attorney, we had expected that it might get pushed into next year. But she was able to fix it and so here we are. 'Tis done.

Some of my friends have offered their congratulations and asked how, or if, I would be celebrating.

I will not be celebrating.

I don't think that the dissolution of a marriage is anything to celebrate, particularly when there are children involved. The thought of yelling, or even saying, "Hooray!" or popping a champagne cork seems . . . immature. Shortsighted. Pointless. For me, at least.

And we didn't just end the marriage, we also managed to shred the friendship in the process. I hear that's pretty common, but it's definitely not how we set out to handle it. So, although divorcing was absolutely the right thing to do, it still marks a failure that affects not only us, but two very beautiful little girl as well. And I didn't just lose the spouse: I also lost his family, who always felt more like my parents than my own parents did. Again: not much cause for celebration there.

As for the other big question:

No, I will not be moving. As expensive as it is to live here and as much competition as there is for jobs, Thomas needs to be here for his work. Even if we did not share custody, I wouldn't think about moving them away from him. He and I sucked at the whole being married thing, but he's a good dad. So I'll be staying here on the Left Coast. I like it here and so I'll find a way to make it work.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thank you, Home Depot Dudes

Me: “OMG! I am so happy to see you!”

Window Dude #1: "We need to measure first, to see if they fit.”

Me: “No. They must fit. I’ve been waiting since July.”

Window Dude #2: “What the hel . . . er, why have you been waiting since July??”

Window Dude #1: “Yeah, seriously. This window just fell out on my head.”

Me: “The HOA had to vote on it. Apparently, they forgot a couple of times and then the application wasn’t on the proper letterhead.”

Window Dude #1: “Man, that’s total bullshit.”

You are correct sir. Total bullshit. But thank you: I now have new, double-paned windows in three of the five windows in this place, and greatly reduced traffic noise.

Thank you, Home Depot. I won’t stop mocking your company, but I will continue to thank your contractors.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Think you had a bad hair day?

OK, perhaps you did But this is CRAZY hair day. Charlotte and Jack have been looking forward to it for a while now :)

*It's just good luck that they sorta matched.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Back to the Job Hunt—Flattery, Rejection and All

One of the nice things about looking for a job is that you get to hear things like "You are a really talented writer!" and, "Your resume is impressive!" and "You are clearly very intelligent and highly versatile."

The downside is that these lovely, flattering comments often come just before things like "We have a large pool of candidates, and several of them more closely map what we're looking for." Or the dread, "We'll keep your resume on file and if something comes up that we feel is a better fit, we'll give you a call." No, you won't. It's sweet of you to say so, but no, you won't.

But I am talented and versatile, so . . . onward! In the meantime, I would like to thank the hiring managers who write the nice, if-it's-a-form-letter-it-doesn't-look-like-one and don't bother stringing applicants along with the "We'll keep you in mind." Because they can't possibly, with that many job openings and that many resumes, keep in mind anyone who falls below the level of senior management. It might seem like a nice thing to do, but offering hope where there is none isn't actually kind and some people will actually believe it. After all, I suppose I do fall for the "very talented," "intelligent" and "highly versatile" comments* . . . .

* I know—because I am. I also have an excellent sense of humor ;)

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Random Bit of Awesomeness

So, you know that a group of cows is a "herd" (unless there are 12 or more, and then it's a "flink"*), a bunch of sheep is a "flock." and a collection of crows is a "murder." But did you know that a group of ferrets is called a "business?"

So when you hear that someone is "gettin' the bizness . . . "? That's right. They're being swarmed by a band of marauding ferrets.**

And if someone is all up in your business? Suggestions?

* "WTF?" is an excellent question.
**But not the black footed kind--they prefer to fly solo.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Random Question of the Day

Why does non-waterproof mascara come off the eyelashes at the mere hint of moisture, but will not come off your face no matter how much soap and water you use?

I'm sure that's great if you're shooting a music video or movie and she needs to show that she's really, truly been crying, but it's not so great for us normal people. It might smack of desperation in the job interview--not a great place to start, methinks.

(Of course, this could also have been filed as a Dammit, especially as I am out of make-up remover cloths. Dammit!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'm Needy. There. I Admit It: I Need You

Not so long ago, a social media guru of my acquaintance sent an email regarding one of my blog posts—the one about me not writing anymore. I’ve felt, for much of the past few months, that I shouldn’t post anything that actually resembled my life, because of the divorce and because there were other people involved. Namely, Thomas and the girls. And because I often find it difficult to write about anything unless it’s something I’m truly interested in or passionate about or getting paid for (sorry I have to say that because it’s my job), I have said nothing. For a long time, I have said nothing.

It has not been as amicable as we had hoped. It has not been as respectful as we had hoped. It has not been something upon which I have hopes that we can eventually re-build a friendship. And so I have said nothing. Because I did not think it something that you wanted to hear, or that I cared to inflict upon you.

But there was this email from the social media guru of my acquaintance. When I wrote, “I don’t write anymore,” he (and one other,) asked, “Why do you need an audience?” It took me a long time to figure out why it mattered.

I need an audience—I need you—because of the way I write. It’s a conversation. When I write in a journal, when I know that it’s only for me, I leave stuff out. I forget words. I sound like a 15 year old, trying to impress my inner self, the self that has already heard the jokes and the one-liners that might make someone else laugh.

But when I write here, I write for both of us, and whether you like it or not, I write for myself and for you. And some of you tell me that that’s OK, that you’re OK with that arrangement. Even those of you who wonder at the liberties that I take with the English language and proper sentence structure.

Writing to you, talking to you, having this conversation with you—some of you for five plus years—has allowed me to become a better writer, and indeed, to better understand myself. I certainly don’t think I’m brilliant, but I know that I am a better writer because of this blog and because of you. I appreciate all of the times you have told me you loved what I wrote, as well as all of the times you’ve told me that I was wrong. And I have been wrong. About a lot of things. But not, I think, about this.

And so, to the Social Media Guru of My Acquaintance I say this: I need an audience because I need people. I like people. I used to be painfully shy; it was hard for me to get to know people. But, in part because of this blog, it’s become easier over time. I like people and I like to feel close to them, even if they are half the world away. I like to know what they think and how they feel and who they are and what makes them . . . well, really, what makes them them. I like talking to them. Talking to you.

I have loved being Left Coast Mom. I have loved writing this blog. And I will continue to write this blog because I am OK admitting that I need you. That I need an audience. All twelve of you (inside joke).

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Apartments Are Fun, Part: Ugh

The first time I ran the dishwasher in my apartment, the front of it fell off. Not the entire door, just the face that covers all of the wiring. Fortunately, it was a pretty easy fix, no real harm done. Just a nice little reminder that things certainly aren't what they used to be. So that was my first "Apartments are fun!" moment.

And then, a month or so ago, I posted a photo of my living room window on Facebook. Normally, your basic apartment window wouldn't seem to be remotely interesting (not that everything I FB is interesting, by any means), but this particular window was in the middle of my living room. Still is, in fact. Propped up against the wall, where it's been ever since it fell from the frame when I tried to close it. As much of a pain as it's been to have it where it is, I've been able to see the silver lining: these are the original windows, in all of their steel-framed, single-paned glory. The windows will all be replaced--hopefully before it begins to rain again.

So that got the second "Apartments are fun!" note.

And tonight, "Apartments are fun, Part: Ugh." Because we came home to find teensy gray ants all over the living room and deck. It's a third-floor apartment. But there they were: little ants in a line from the back door, half way across the living room. I don't like killing things, so there was a lot of sweeping up and throwing away. I found their nest under a plant and so threw away the nest, the plant and all of the little buggers I could find. I figured that if I put them all in the dumpster together, they could all just move into a new place and be happy together somewhere that wasn't my living room. Is that weird?

What made it worse was that, after finding them wandering around late, I wondered "Do ants sleep?" According to "The World Almanac for Kids," eh, maybe. Ants don't have eyelids, they do rest, but apparently, hooking them up to the machinery that would allow us to see if they actually sleep would be a bit bothersome to them--no doubt keeping them awake if they were trying to sleep. The World Almanac for Kids also says that "ants display many behaviors similar to ours. For example, worker ants take care of larvae by feeding and washing them." Fantastic. One more reason to not kill them: Who would wash the babies?

So there's your lesson for the day: Apartments are fun, ants may or may not sleep and Melanie is weird.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Life 2.0. Letting Go

I am a selfish person. A bit of a control freak. And I didn't truly see that until the separation/divorce.

Because, until recently, I controlled almost every aspect of the girls' lives.

I know who their doctors are. I know when to schedule their appointments. I know that the only hairdresser who can cut Charlotte's stick-straight hair and Hannah's ridiculously thick hair with the same perfection is Suzy at Beauty Queen in San Carlos. I know that, when it comes to yogurt, Hannah will only eat Yoplait low-fat originals and Charlotte will only eat Trader Joe's non-fat French Vanilla. I scheduled their camps and classes and play dates and birthday parties and doctor's appointments. I helped them choose their clothes and shoes and accessories. I said "No" to the plaid skirt-tie-dyed-shirt-polka-dot-tights combo. I got yelled at for it--by them--but I said "No" anyway. Most of the time. I chose most of their books and toys and puzzles. I helped Charlotte with her speech therapy and physical therapy and occupational therapy. In short, I was the boss.

But now I have to share all of that. And I don't like it.

It's not an easy thing to let go of--not even the half time that Thomas has them. And not even when he's doing such a good job at it.

It's not that I didn't think that he could do it. It's that it hadn't ever really occurred to me that he'd need to. It wasn't supposed to be this way--after all, the SAHM thing was my job for almost eight years. And, while there were times when it was hard to be at home, times when I missed interacting with adults, this was my job. It was a job I wanted. A job I still want. A job I didn't know I guarded so jealously until last night, when I saw the papers for Hannah's new school. The papers that had a name--not mine--at the top. The papers that listed an address--not mine--as her home. Her home is with me only on Wednesdays and Thursdays and every other Friday/Saturday/Sunday. And that's hard. Even when he's doing such a good job.

Between the two of us and the two houses, we've somehow managed it so that the girls actually do chores now. They make their beds (almost) every morning before breakfast. They know how to fold clothes--theoretically, sure, but it's a start. They put away their toys. Sometimes. They take off their shoes when they come in the house. They get up and go to camp and go to bed when someone tells them to. Charlotte does push ups (or tries to), which is really good for her shoulder girdle. Hannah showed me the proper way to do crunches which is, let's face it, really good for my abs.

Next week is the first week of school. And Monday is a particularly important day, as it will be Charlotte's first day of Kindergarten. My baby off to school. All grown up, as she thinks, even if I'm not ready to admit it. And Monday morning isn't my morning to have them, so I won't be the one getting them ready for their first day of school, helping to choose their clothes and do their hair and pack their lunches and get their backpacks ready.

But I will still get to practice the mad rush to be at line-up on time; there's no way I'm going to miss walking with Charlotte to Mrs Baldini's classroom, marveling--as we did with Hannah--that that tiny little person is ready to go to school. And I go to school with Hannah for her first day, too, and try not to worry because I know that math homework at the Smarty Pants school is going to be even harder for me than her second grade algebra and plane geometry were. Fortunately, Thomas is pretty good at math, too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I don't write anymore . . . .

. . . . and I hate it.

I write for my job, but it's not the same.

But for this, for me, I can't find a space, a voice , a reason.

I don't want to write stuff that would come from Angry-hurt-soon-to-be-divorced woman. Sometimes, what seems reasonable to be angry or hurt about on Monday is totally pointless on Wednesday. But I need to write. It's what I do. I actually dream in chapters and credits.


Some nights, my dreams will be prefaced with a "Chapter III" page. Some nights, I roll credits at the end of the dream. It doesn't matter if I've actually seen the dream. Credits will roll. Better than Alice in Wonderland, I suppose, when heads roll. But. I had a point.

My point was . . . . ?

Oh yes . . .

I write. I need to write. But I feel like I can't write about the stuff that is closest to my heart these days. I don't want to hurt people who may not deserve it. I don't want to publish things I can't take back. But I'm left feeling as though my tongue were cut out and my hands cut off, with no way to say how and what I feel.

Divorce is an ugly thing, no matter how hard you try to make it otherwise. You spent too many years studying one another, figuring out which button to push and when. And some days, one or the other of you will relish pushing that button, just because you can. And some days, you say things you can't ever take back.

And some days, I remember what Hannah said when she found the DIY divorce book in my room: "What if every page said, "Don't do it?"

It makes me sad, but the answer still has to be, "Sometimes, you just have to do it."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

'tis True

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.
~Anatole France

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hannah: My Seven-Year-Old Happy Pill

As she watched me get dressed this morning, Hannah looked me over approvingly and said, "Diamonds."

As she knew that I was already wearing the diamond earrings, I asked what she meant.

"If I were a 40 or 41 year old guy, that's what I'd think. You're gorgeous. Like diamonds."

As I'm still working on being less self-deprecating, it was hard not to add "But diamonds are cold and hard."

For once I took the compliment and mentally added, "Yes, like diamonds. Full of unexpected fire." I like that better.

Now I'll just work on believing it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hannah-ism, on Sibling Rivalry

The girls were sitting at the counter, finishing dinner, when Hannah challenged Charlotte to a race to the bottom of their milk glasses.

Silly me:
"Hannah, not everything has to be a competition."

Hannah, once again showing a frankness beyond her years:
"Mom, it's been a competition since the day you brought her home from the hospital."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Missing My Girlies

I went in to check on the girls last night, as I have almost every night since they were born. In fact, when I count it up, I think that there were fewer than two dozen nights I’d not been home to slip in, pull up their covers and kiss them good-night before I went to bed.

Hannah is always first, because if I wake Charlotte up, even a bit, I will have to either race from the room before she wakes all the way—meaning that I have to skip Hannah—or I will end up sitting with her until she falls asleep again.

So last night, I climbed up to kiss Hannah. I felt around the bed for her—she likes to make a nest and disappear—and then I remembered. “They’re with Thomas.” Not with me. And, lest you think I’ve completely lost it, it wasn’t that I’d forgotten where they were. It was complete reflex. Muscle memory. Heart memory. Whatever you want to call it.

They spent a couple of days with Thomas last week and Sunday, of course, but I’d been so exhausted from the seemingly interminable move and starting a new job and working late on the nights they were with him and then coming home to unpack boxes and trying to create a bit of order somewhere that, though of course I missed them, I hadn’t had time to notice how quiet and hollow and empty the house felt. How I felt.

I worked late again tonight, but the minute I got home and put the key in the lock I began to cry. That’s one way (though absolutely not recommended) to season your scrambled egg dinner when you can’t remember in which box you packed the salt.

So tonight, I vacuumed. I unpacked more boxes. I worked. I wrote this. I did laundry. And the dishes. And talked to my BIL and to my sister. And unpacked more boxes and worked a bit more. I made Charlotte’s bed so it wouldn’t still look like there was a little person in it, though that seemed like a good idea last night. I put on their bedtime music and tried to convince myself that it will get better. Everyone says it will. Maybe it will. But not today.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Inadvertantly Inappropriate

On the way to speech therapy this morning (not that we can blame this one on the apraxia):

Charlotte: Mommy, guessa me get you for you birday?
Me: I don't know! What are you getting me for my birthday?
Char: Me get you a toy!
Me: Really? What kind of toy?
Char: A GWOWN UP toy!

Um… How's about flowers?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We’re Skipping the Anniversary This Year

After almost 13 years of marriage, Thomas and I have decided to go our almost separate ways (we have kids, people--tied for life). We officially separated in early January and expect that everything will be final in mid-August, less than one month after what would have been our 13th wedding anniversary.

We’re trying to stay amicable throughout the process, but there’s a good reason why divorce is of the five most stressful life events. I think that selling a house should also be on the list, so we decided to get that one out of the way at the same time. And, as Thomas says, after 14 years you get pretty good at pushing each other’s buttons. In fact, those buttons can get pretty worn with use.

The girls are taking it better than expected. Well, Hannah is. Charlotte, not so much. Her temper tantrums increased for a while, and she asks, almost daily, if Mommy and Daddy are both going to be home for dinner. The pediatrician says this will get better as she adjusts. She is only five, after all, and the apraxia also limits her ability to communicate her displeasure.

Hannah, on the other hand, was initially excited at the prospect of finally getting her own bedroom. She assumed that one of them would live with me for a while, the other with Thomas, and then they’d switch. Um, no. Sorry. Then when she saw a book on divorce she asked, “What if every page said, 'Don’t do it?'” That called for a very long hug.

And then she began to imagine other, more interesting possibilities.

The next day, when I asked if she wanted to talk about it some more, she thought about it for a bit and then asked if I was going to get married again. I assured her that I wasn’t thinking of that right now. In fact, I wasn’t even thinking of dating right now. Then she asked, “Is Daddy going to get married again?

I said that I didn’t think he was thinking of that right now, either. Next up was “But you both might get married again?” Me: “Yes, I suppose so.

Hannah came back with, “So that would mean two weddings.” Small pause. “So I’d get to be a bridesmaid twice?!

A short time after that, she sighed and said, “Well, I guess it’s almost dating season.” I laughed so hard that I choked on my coffee (we were at Philz, natch). (Later, Thomas and I wondered just how many you were allowed to bag in a dating season.) But she wasn’t done. Less that five minutes later, with an incredibly sly look for one so young, she offered, “Well, when you’re ready to date, I know a couple of boys you can get down with.” I had to leave the building. After regaining my composure, I asked what, exactly, she meant by “get down with.”

You know—get some lovin.” I startled quite a few people with a shout of laughter. And then I said that I hoped she was talking about one of her teachers, though all are happily married and of no dating interest to me, and not one of her classmates. That’s taking Mrs. Robinson a bit too far. A lot too far. And she’s SEVEN. She is not supposed to know these things yet, right? Right?

This is a life change that, of course, neither of us had really expected or planned for. It’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do—after all, Thomas was such a good friend for so many years—but I know that, in the end, both of us will be happier for it. We are committed to making sure that Hannah and Charlotte always know how much they are loved and that they will always come first. I hope that he and I are able to become better friends and learn, one day, to stop pushing those damn buttons.

Oh, and, Thomas gets custody of the dog.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In My Garden

It's already beginning to look like summer here. Well, if you ignore the seemingly interminable rain. And that fact that we have yet to turn on the sprinklers. And the grass is still green. Oh, fine. My garden is already beautiful. (Don't ask me what these plants are; I can't remember and only know that the last one is lavender.)

No, I do not need to mow the grass again--I'm pretending that letting it grow is part of the plan.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Quick Tour of MoMa

A really quick trip. Two minutes, in fact.

I found this through Refinery 29's Daily Diversion. Amazing.

You know what they say about big feet . . . .

Big sticks.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A Bit of Random Grossness

Want to know how you get the smell of dried dog poop out of your nose after you accidentally snort dried dog poop while trying to see if it was actually dirt or chocolate*?

You don't.

You can blow your nose, wipe the inside with a wet Q-Tip, snort half a bottle of nasal spray, inhale deeply after spraying perfume, think about snorting a line of baking soda . . .

Try whatever you like. It's not gonna work.

Happy Thursday!

* At the time it seemed to matter if it was chocolate or dirt. If it's dirt, the dog is in trouble. If it's chocolate, the girl's are in trouble. It was poop. It's in my nose. Everyone is in trouble. Because I am an idiot and not a happy camper.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

More Randomness

And now a random, ridiculous and probably rhetorical question:

A group of men spend two years doing a little military-style training. Learning to shoot and how to make and detonate bombs. They plot the murder of a police officer apparently for the sole purpose of setting off a bomb at the funeral.

The charges include plotting to wage war against the US, possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, teaching the use of explosives, and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction—that would be the homemade bombs.

The indictment reads, in part:

"It is believed by the Hutaree that this engagement would then serve as a catalyst for a more widespread uprising against the government."

Guess what "Hutaree" is supposed to mean? Christian Warrior.

And that's why it isn't still front page news. Which it would be if this group of men were Muslim. They would also be labeled as "Terrorists." Not "Militia."

Why is that?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Completely Random

I was making a bagel for breakfast this morning when it occurred to me that I had no idea where the sesame seeds came from. As I was pretty sure that they couldn't be a McDonald's creation, and because I can't help myself, I ran to Wikipedia.

Given the size of the seed, I had surmised that it must come from a grass of some sort. Alas, I am not always as smart as I should be--particularly when it comes to plants. The sesame plant is not a grass, but a flowering herb. The seeds grow in the plant's pods. While there are many wild varieties, usually found in Africa, sesame was probably first cultivated in India, where it has a long history and is used in many rituals.

Other things I didn't know about sesame seeds and/or plants:
  • According to Assyrian legend, when the gods met to create the world, they drank wine made from sesame seeds. (yep--stole that directly from the Wikipedia page)

  • The phrase "Open sesame" came from "Arabian Nights" and refers to the pods of the plant opening when mature.
  • The seeds are really good for you: "exceptionally rich in iron, magnesium, manganese, copper and calcium (90 mg per tablespoon for unhulled seeds, 10 mg for hulled), and contain vitamin B1 . . . and vitamin E . . . They contain lignans, including unique content of sesamine . . . with antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Among edible oils from six plants, sesame oil had the highest antioxidant content."
  • It's easier to absorb the nutrients if you grind then up before eating. Tahini is a delicious example.
  • The plants are very pretty.

Curiosity. It's a beautiful thing. Well, for me, anyway. Even if you didn't want to know anything about sesame seeds, at least check out the video link in the first paragraph.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Escape from Louse Mountain

I hate bugs. Ever heard me mention that? I. Really. Hate. Bugs.

And now one of my biggest bug-related fears has come true, not once, not twice, but thrice: Head lice. Head LICE. Not on me, which would be horrid enough. On my children. I thought we were going to escape them altogether. After all, I never had lice. Thomas never had lice. None of our siblings ever had lice. Hannah didn't get them at camp last summer when all of her friends did.

But two weeks ago, she started scratching. I didn't see anything the several times that I checked. But then, as I was holding the shower door for her, SOMETHING fell on my arm. It looked like a little bit of fuzz. But a more solid bit of fuzz than fuzz normally appears to be. And it fell from her head.

I have spent the past seven years hiding, as well as I can, the fact that I don't like bugs. That I'm pretty much terrified of spiders. I hide it because I don't want Hannah and Charlotte to have my ridiculous fear of these tiny creatures.

Leetle sidebar: My fear stems from an incident when I was very young: I learned upon kicking a log in my grandparents yard that said log was infested with now-angry Daddy Longlegs. Angry Daddy Longlegs swarm. Did you know that? I did not. Hence my life-long fear of spiders (do NOT tell me that "technically, they are not spiders." I know that. I get it. It doesn't matter), and other bugs. On contact, they all tend to cause the same creepy crawling of the skin.

And I think I've done a pretty good job not infecting them with my bugophoboa--in fact, a couple of years ago, at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, Hannah actually held an African Giant Millipede--which, Jeezus Edith, some people keep as pets. So when the little bit of oh-dear-god-please-let-that-be-fuzz fell on my arm, I quickly and calmly-ish slapped my hand over it, ushered Hannah into the shower and ran to ask Thomas "What the hell is this?!" We had to Google it. It was a louse. It had friends. Lots of friends. My head began to itch. Not bugs--just psychosomatic.

We treated it with Nix. Twice. I made her wash her hair every day. We did the fine-toothed comb. Every day. We [[insert sound of shudder]] picked nits. Every day. I washed in hot water and dried on hot for 70 minutes all bedding, stuffed animals, pillows, clothes and anything else that would fit in the washer and/or dryer. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. The floor. The beds. The dog, for good measure. Finally, a little over a week later, they were gone.

And then they came back. Two days ago, first thing in the morning, she started scratching again. "No no no no! Oh please, no!" The universe turned a deaf ear to my pleas. Somehow, I missed at least two and those fertile little fuckers were at it again. Did you know they can hold their breath for an obscene amount of time, which is why just shampooing won't kill them? I did not.

Back to the pharmacy. Everything back in the washer and/or dryer on the hottest setting. Vacuum, vacuum. Bleach the sink and tub after the treating and [[insert sound of shudder]] nit picking sessions. Everything I've read says that lice are not an indication that you or your house are lacking in cleanliness, which is small comfort when the treatment is to clean yourself and your home harder than you probably thought possible.

Throughout all of this, I've been giving myself a mental high five because, as much as I hate bugs (have I mentioned that?), I haven't freaked out in front of the girls. Even when Hannah made me leave a live louse on a tissue for a couple of minutes because she wanted to see what it looked like. I almost offered to let her look at one online, but wasn't sure if the magnified images would, in a nanosecond, undo seven years of my not freaking out.

This morning all of our de-lousing efforts--not to mention Hannah's incredible patience with the fine-toothed comb in her very thick hair--were clearly paying off. There were very few nits left! And then, from the kitchen I heard, "Um, Mel? Bad news. Charlotte has them, too."

Frickemfuckemfrackem. I need a bigger washing machine.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Random Observation

Skirts and dresses in the Spring? Love wearing them.

Skirts and dresses in 30-40 mph wind gusts? Not so much.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

There's an App For That

It was a moonless night in late summer and I was stretched out on the path near our campsite, just beyond the canopy of the trees where I had an uninterrupted view of the sky. We were at Tuolumne Meadows, high above the Yosemite Valley floor, a place that, in the daylight, would seem more closely related to the surface of the moon than to the vast forests and meadows and waterfalls that lay sweltering in the valley below.

The closest actual structure (unfortunately the bathroom) was ¼ mile away, so after the campfires started dying away, I could easily imagine that there was no light between me and the stars, and I had never seen so many in a single sky. I kept having the vision of a small girl with a bottle of glitter in one hand and a bottle of sequins in the other, throwing them up against black velvet. In some places they lay so thickly you couldn’t tell one from the other. In others, they were much more spread out, but not a single portion of velvet was left unadorned.

And, although the moon was not up, the stars and planets themselves were bright enough that I had a dim appreciation for what it must have been like in Galileo’s time, when the sky was dark enough that Venus cast a shadow on the earth. As I lay there, I felt no more than a speck in the cosmos, as small and far away from everyone on Earth as those stars were from me, completely alone and yet content.

For the past couple of weeks, Mars has hung like a ruby in the Eastern sky, a more vivid red than I can recall seeing it. Naturally, I had to look it up and, on January 27, Mars was the closest it had been to the Earth in almost two years. I mention this because, when I have to take Kairos out at night, I’m often caught for a moment or 10, mesmerized by the astral display and curious as to whether anyone I know is looking at exactly the same place at just that moment.

I don’t know the names of all of the constellations, just that I can lose myself looking for them and at them. And I like knowing that, right now—this actual moment—Saturn has risen, chasing the moon and Mars, all following my Gemini constellation. And I don’t even have to take the dog out or try to see through the clouds because, guess what? There’s an app for that: Planets 1.6 for the iPhone.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Charlotte-isms? Sure, Why Not?

Also known as, "Oh great, another smartypants in the family."

Charlotte's big pink box of Legos serves two main functions: They're an excellent fine-motor exercise for her, and they keep her amused and engaged for at least an hour--no TV required! This is a huge endorsement, as Charlotte generally lives for two things: Chocolate and television.

After playing quietly for a few minutes, Charlotte asked me to help her take apart two of the bricks.

Do you know why you can't get them apart?
[[Note: the correct answer was "Because I bite my fingernails down to the quick."]

Charlotte, with an exasperated sigh:
Because it makes me tired.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Little Kids Should Not Have Seizures. Not.

Charlotte has been on medication to control seizures for more than two years. Before her fifth birthday, she'd had two EEGs and an MRI, both of which have risks--EEG requires sleep deprivation and, for younger kids, the MRI requires anesthesia. I'm not going to equate sleep deprivation with the risks of anesthesia in general, but anyone who has ever seen me sans sleep will understand why there is risk attached. If you haven't had the pleasure, let's just say that that particular irritability trigger is one which Charlotte comes by honestly.

Over the past two years, we've gradually had to increase the medication to adjust for growth spurts. The last time we did this was between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We spent 10 days on the East Coast for winter break, and, not long after we returned, Charlotte had a seizure. And then another. And another.

I should mention that her seizures have always been very small. In fact, for a long time, we didn't know she was having them. But I perfectly remember the first time I saw one. She wasn't yet a year old. She was wearing a navy blue outfit dotted with little white anchors, with a white sailor collar. She was on her stomach on the floor and had just pushed herself up onto her arms when she started shaking. Part of my brain thought, "That looks like a seizure." The rest of my brain rejected that thought outright, insisting instead that it was the exertion of pushing herself up. It wasn't a seizure. No one else saw it. It didn't happen again. The pediatrician thought it was, yes, the exertion of pushing herself up.

Charlotte was born six weeks early and very small--three pounds, 11 ounces. She spent two weeks in the NICU to get her weight up to FOUR POUNDS. They send them home at four pounds. Jeezus, talk about scary. But she never needed any other intervention--no lung, heart, or other issues. Nothing to explain why she wouldn't walk until she was almost two or talk until she was almost three, or why, at five, her fine motor skills would be below average and she'd still be in speech therapy.

In the week after we got home from the East Coast, Charlotte had three or four seizures. We noted it, but decided to take the "watch and see" approach, as she typically has more seizures when she's over-tired. And then the day after her fifth birthday, they started coming, one after the other after the other. Over the course of the morning, she had ten. Ten. She'd never had that many in an entire day. Ever.

A quick, slightly (ha!) panicked call to the neurologist resulted in a new medication that had to be started that very day, plus an urgent request for an MRI through Lucile Packard Childrens Hospital--they are the only place to go if you need to put a kid under for an MRI. We couldn't get in for the MRI until yesterday, almost 10 days after the episode, but they had to bump someone else, so I couldn't really complain about it. Loudly.

The MRI was scheduled for 10:00am, but we had to arrive at 8:30 to complete registration and all of the pre-op stuff--basically to make sure she wasn't sick and to get a current height and weight. Other than me accidentally getting a few deep breaths of the anesthesia (more on that later, perhaps), the whole thing went well. The hardest part of both MRIs was waiting for Charlotte to wake up. She likes her sleep anyway (again, comes by that honestly), and so uses this as an excellent opportunity to get in an extra hour. Both times the nurse had to wake her up after I sat for the hour, watching that tiny body, making sure of the exhale and inhale, happy to see the slight flush of pink that kept her suddenly, amazingly translucent skin from looking too doll-like.

But awake she finally did, and recovered as well as she has from anything before: from the previous MRI, from getting stitches in her head, from various colds, hives, bumps, bruises and scratches--none of which she ever complains about. In other words, she rejected outright Nurse Jenn's instructions that she have nothing but clear liquids and popcicles for a few hours, then maybe yogurt or ice cream before moving on to toast or rice or crackers.

No. Charlotte wanted Goldfish. And chocolate. And pizza. After several minutes of "discussion," we "compromised" on the Goldfish: she got one bowl instead of two. And then we agreed that if she felt as though the milk was going to make her vomit, she knew where the bathroom was. I did get her to stick to toast with butter and honey for dinner but was completely unable to convince her of the potential dangers of running, leaping from the furniture, turning cartwheels and dancing with the dog--all of which were also discouraged by Nurse Jenn. I think Charlotte took Nurse Jenn's lack of specificity as a series of very large loopholes ripe for exploitation.

The neurologist promised to call as soon as she heard anything, and she was true to her word. She called me tonight, at 8:00, because she didn't think I'd want to wait the entire weekend to hear that it was unchanged from the MRI a year ago. She also apologized not being able to give me a better answer to "Why did this happen?". Apparently, "Sometimes it just happens" is all they can give you.

So for now, we're back to "watch and see." I get to go back to trying to suppress the instinct to catch her the minute she begins to fall. And Charlotte gets to keep being Charlotte: Funny, tough, sweet, indomitable. And definitey not ever in the mood to have someone catch her if she falls or even notice that anything happened.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Hannah's new "OMG-MOM-WHY-CAN'T-I-LISTEN-TO-IT-AGAIN" favorite song is Green Hills Race to California, from the Emerson Hart album, Cigarettes and Gasoline.

A single misheard word led to a discussion awkward enough to make me glad she was sitting directly behind me. I'm not sure I would have been able to explain why I was cringing and crying with laughter at the same time.

The lyrics in question:

How do I go back to California

How do I leave the green fields here

Warm nights and your sweet magnolia

Mom, what's a magnolia again?

It's a tree. It has a beautiful flower.

So when he sings "Warm nights IN your sweet magnolia . . ."

Wha . . ?

So, how did he do that, exactly? Did he just peel open one of the petals and slide in?

Um, I'm not sure that's . . .

Did he make himself really small to do that? Or was it a really big magnolia?

Hannah, I don't think . . .

Did he spend all night there? I wonder what it felt like.

Hey! It's time for Marketplace! Let's talk about this later!

January in the San Francisco Bay Area

Tough life, eh? The only bad thing is that I'm allergic to god knows what. Hopefully not these. Not ready for that.