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Friday, January 30, 2009

thankful

I am thankful to witness nervous and not so nervous students recite poems.

I am thankful my daughter willingly accompanies me in the thick fog to a reading, insisting that I get my book signed, though she was weary and ready to call it a night.

I am thankful to live near the City of Books. My world is full of words.

And I am thankful for generous writers, those brave souls that pressed on and published and offer up encouragement along the way.

(Add Stephanie Kallos to your calendar the next time she comes through town; you won't be sorry. She reads her prose with an actor's flair and answered questions with such warmth. I'm so glad Lexi came along.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

a much younger man

So I bought into the hype and found me a much younger guy, to pal around with at library.

caden2
Scandalous, I know.
caden4
I always was a sucker for man with a thing for books. Add some mad glue stick skillz, and you've got yourself a Storytime date.

(There's nothing sweeter than watching him unearth his library card from his pocket, so proud to check out his own books, like his big brother, like his older cousins. He's quite the catch.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

a tale of two rooms

There once was a girl. A very good girl. A very, very good girl that recently began reading her mother's blog - Hi, Lexi! - that grew weary of her princess pink room. She studied IKEA catalogs and cited other friends' makeovers over long conversations, over long months and house showings and promises couched around 'when we move'. Over time, she grew put out over being put off and resigned herself to her world of pastels, until last week when her mother offered to paint her room.

She could hardly believe it. Yes, her father purchased the paint and her mother cleared (a portion) of her calendar and would begin, just as soon as the floor was relocated.

(Oh how swiftly we fell off the staging wagon, post-for sale sign.)

And now the before:
Yes, the very good girl was not the tidiest of children. Her mother granted her the Creative Person Pass today, because her heart was feeling generous.

(Recipe for Generous spirit: One part sunshine, two parts Mai Tai during Aloha Hour, with a dash of No More Blowing My Nose glee.)
For what she lacks is cleanliness, she makes up for with watercolors. She's on a Beatles bender this month.

Then the very good girl's brother looked up from his X-box and declared: Oh mother, I too have grown weary of my Disney phase. What about me?
And so began my quest: Revamp some bedrooms with the flick of the wrist, a little magic and a small budget.

I'll let you know how the fair princess and prince make out. Which sounds sort of twisted. Must leave keyboard, and get to work.

Stay tuned for the Afters.

Friday, January 23, 2009

friday

through my lens:


on the air:
up ahead:
Friday arrives, and not a moment too soon.

Friday. I missed you, man.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

here we are now, entertain us

There's been a misunderstanding.

My kids have mistaken me for Julie the Cruise Director.


Actually, they have no idea who Julie McCoy is - as non-Love Boat aficionados, which is right and good - and when I state such claims, I see a look pass between them, a tally of further evidence that their dear ol' mom just ain't right.

But no bother. I am weary of their high expectations every afternoon, when they get off the bus and ask: What are we going to do today?

(What happened to 'I'm hungry'? I'm starting to miss those days.)

I'm not sure how this came about. We live pretty average lives. When I start to tell them what my plans are, most afternoons - I'm going to fold laundry, and listen to my book on CD, and start dinner, and pack lunches, and read with them - I'm met with such disappointment, as if every day should be rainbows and playdates and cocktails and trips to exotic lands.

(There's some wishful thinking, mid-January, mixed in there for myself, I admit it.)

So, they are bored. I'm okay with it. I say: read, draw, play your cello, and occasionally expect there will be a date with friends, a rented movie, shrinky dinks.

They might as well learn to entertain themselves now, to occupy their minds, instead of waiting for someone else to fill it for them - shape their thoughts, fill their hours.

I can take a hint. We have cleared the decks, so to speak. We will be building more routine back into our weeks, now that we are here - forever? for now? - to stay.

And doesn't seem fitting that they can take all that passion, that excitement and put it directly into the first thing on the docket: Drama Club.

Sure beats shuffle board...

*****

We did make Shrinky-Dinks at Christmas time. Yes, we.
I love using Sharpies, making a Vampire/Goth mobile. (I still need to fix the wires. It didn't turn out as planned.)
The kids also traced images I printed from Google, for their friends. I intended to do more last Monday, but we used the wrong plastic and it ended badly.

You should give it a try, the next time you feel like taking on a retro project with the kids. Scribbit has easy directions,
here.

(And her mobile is lovely. Call me Julie the Jealous.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

sickly and inspired

All this talk of service and giving back and working hard has me feeling inspired.

It makes me want to be more, do more.

[After my nose stops running and we have hot water again. (Our hot water heater did not get the memo. It is failing miserably.)]

Better still: My kids came home talking politics and history, full of expectation. Speaking of greatness...

It doesn't get any sweeter than that.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

history, unfolds

All eyes are on Washington, including mine.

Catch you tomorrow, okay?

NYtimes shot, from just hours ago

Monday, January 19, 2009

hope

Every Monday I am there.

There's no pomp or circumstance; I cross the classroom, calling each student over to pick out a book for the week's homework.

They come with wiggly teeth and diverse backgrounds; our big blue marble condensed in these four walls.

And I have to believe that this generation may just get it right.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

quiet

Our cold snap has passed.

The mornings are icy, but the sun spills out over our afternoons. The kids dust off their bikes, taking advantage of these unseasonable bright days. The mayhem echoes from the garage.

Every morning I bounce merrily on my rebounder, as merrily as I can to the loud obnoxious music I seem to prefer. I seem to be working out some issues, contemplative and quiet on this page.

Every post I begin in my head - bounce, bounce, bounce - turns into a rambling rant, training to become a manifesto.

I sprint past 675 posts, still with so much more to say, once I unravel this knot with a stranglehold on my mind.

But the sun is setting, coming through the trees and I have dinner to make, homework to supervise, children aiming to be heard.

I pause, taming unruly thoughts for another day.

Monday, January 12, 2009

off to the rink

We're in a lull, between scheduled events, waiting for spring to come and with it, volleyball for the girl and the pool for the boy.

I like the free time. I even like the sleepovers we've been having now that the house is off the market. But we get cabin fever and wiggly, and the only solution that works for us is to get out and move around.

Roller skating fit the bill Saturday.

Lexi spent 2nd grade, with ice skates pasted on her feet. She lived to skate, spending 3 or 4 days a week at the rink, until she came to a place that required a private coach and a 5 am wake up call and she called it quits. So, she strapped on her roller skates and within a few minutes, she was on her way.

Zack was another story. Forever cautious, he overthinks risky behavior - something I will appreciate when he's a teen, no doubt - worried he will get hurt or squished by the speedy teens, flying by.

I gave him some tips, and coasted nearby, watching him suffer through those first few trips around the rink, falling and running in place, keeping himself a float between falls. He'd fall and without missing a beat he was up, an animated tap dancer still trying to feel the music.

It took all my energy to keep from chuckling. He needed me to cheer him on when he'd get teary, exhausted and ready to go home. He'd take a break, sucking on the nasty skittles cherry spray I bribed him with, while Lexi and I glided to Eye of the Tiger. Because we are nerdy like that.

(I can't brag too long. My bruised ego knee won't let me. I got tangled up outside the rink, on the stupid uneven carpeting to check on Zack after he fell. It was a proud moment, my son howling as I bite it and crawl to him.)

Apparently, he wasn't too traumatized.

I heard him telling his best friend later that night how much fun he had, learning to skate. Who knew.

Oh to have that kind of resilience, when I trip and fall, trying something new.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Gran Torino

Pile in your car - foreign or domestic, I don't really care which - and head to see Gran Torino. It is gritty and utterly PC-less and funny and touching. Yes, bring a tissue to see Eastwood at his Dirty Harriest. The man can act.

(I was also taken back by the large crowd of senior citizens, there to support their own. AARP was in the house, yo. The matinee was packed.)

I will be thinking about this film for a long time.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

once upon a time, in a galaxy not far from here, there were *jazz hands*

Last year I jumped on board Mrs. G's Ass Project, determined that if the lady of the manor could bare it all online, I could at least drag my sorry self down to my local Grange, for Jazzercise. And for about 6 months, rain or shine or kids or house staging - just name an obstacle - I did just that.

Until I became a Granny Action Figure, complete with hip bursitis and I took a solemn vow of kindness to my fellow elderly brothers and sisters, because Holy Batman, Reader! Waking up in the wee hours of the morning to boring, insidious pain from sleeping, of all the things, was exhausting. Short walks made my eyes water. I really had no choice but to yank my membership from the jazz hand ranks and nurse my poor geriatric hip back to life.

(It was probably brought on by several factors: a flare-up of Sjogrens and arthritis combined with high impact exercise on an unforgiving surface, while I am taking a Prednisone break. It hit me like a freight train.)

I whined privately, and wined socially and watched my weight inch up until a couple of weeks ago I realized my hip was regaining flexibility and I added yoga back into my routine.

I started taking short walks again; picked up hands weights again. And this week, like many Americans, I joined a gym.

Yes, I bounce, just like that. Heh.

Yes, Mama Milton bought a rebounder. It's not glamorous. It's a little silly. But it's also inexpensive, easy to use and gentle on my delicate joints.

(Look! I'm an infomercial!)

Now excuse me while I crank up my iPod and get jumping before the kids come home and beg to play with my new toy.

Monday, January 05, 2009

bloggers in the burbs

I need to interrupt my regularly scheduled post to announce that the snow day/extended Winter Break/Sibling Sumo wrestling disaster has been averted. Children are boarding the bus in t-minus 9 minutes, to resume their educational pursuits, instead of wringing each other's necks. It's a post-Christmas miracle.

So the ladies North of Portland - I can't bear to call it the 'Couv, no matter how affectionate that sounds - met up again Saturday night for Happy Hour on our side of town. The place features fantastic NW cuisine and for a suburban bar, it's considered to be rather hip and trendy. Or hipper anyway, but I'm afraid the staff has been buying their own hype.

I've worked in such restaurants, worked with self-important chefs and uptight servers. I've dealt with silly rules and wine lists and presentation and if you can keep paying your bills as a small business owner, I say more power to you. But being the Jonathan Franzen of restaurants may not serve you well during a recession, when your once hopping bar seems rather empty and you have more competition in your own backyard.

(And being rude to a table of bloggers may not be the best word of mouth but then again, I got the impression that we were not the clientele they were hoping for, which is sad when you consider that this group of women still has money to spend. Maybe they are hoping for a bailout from Washington.)

But despite the less than Happy service, I had a fabulous time, thankful and amazed for a community of invisible friends, made flesh and bone on a frosty night.

*****
I know we missed a few bloggers this time out. If you live in the Vancouver area and would like to join us next time, we'd love to hear from you. We are going casual next time out, hitting a roller skating rink.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

the (not so) midas touch

I am not a golden girl it seems.

2009 appears to be clumsy and ill-fitting. Or maybe it was just yesterday.

(There wasn't even a full moon at work here.)

We were loading up the car to eat birthday lunch with Greg yesterday when I realized my GPS system - with the cute little black car, like mine - was gone baby gone. I must have left my car unlocked at some point this week and someone helped me clean out my car.

And it went downhill from there.

I nearly bit it in the icy parking lot.

I locked myself out of the house, while on a walk with Lexi, because I had removed my key to get more keys made on a day when my husband's ETA would be approaching midnight. Yay, me! Brilliant!

(I called BFF Jen and she called Kind Neighbor Friend Kristy - Realtor Extraordinaire - and she was able to open the lock box that is still on my door. Tragedy averted.)

And to repay Jen for feeding my fam dinner? I poured salsa on her floor. I'm nice like that.

I'm just glad I made it home in one piece, with nary an ER visit.

I'm applying bubblewrap and hoping for a slightly less interesting day.

Friday, January 02, 2009

happy birthday, Greg ox

miltons at the patch

We are bummed you have to work a llloooonnnngggg end-of-quarter day, on your day, when we much rather be with you.

Just know that we love you, with all our (silly, goofy) might.

ox,
Lisa, Lexi and Zack

Thursday, January 01, 2009

rudderless

I am restless by nature. Always have been.

Itchy for change.

I've turned to others over the years for insight and heard explanations: How growing up in a small town afforded me with a stability to try new things. Another friend - with a penchant for astrology, and cocaine - claimed it's because I'm a Sagittarius. She'd make offers to do my chart, between swigs of tequila and picking bar fights. But we never did get around to it.

(I don't remember her sign, but she was one flaky cokehead. I bet you're surprised.)

I feel like I've been treading water for the past six months, waiting for our house to sell. I've shed a lot of tears saying goodbye just to land right here - the first day of the year, the first day since we took our house off the market - and all those plans I made have evaporated, leaving me adrift.

Every time I have tried to write this post, I can't help but sound like one big Aha! moment. I can hardly bear being That Girl on the couch, describing suburban malaise and how she lost herself and how she didn't expect to be where she is today. The stereotypical everywoman on afternoon TV, because I am grateful. I'm blessed in many ways.

I just know I am supposed to be doing something, something more with these days marked with boredom that writing the typical resolutions won't mend for me.

So I trust that it will take some action, getting my hands dirty and moving my feet to find my way again.

I hope you'll be along for the ride.