I'd been up since 4:22 in the morning yesterday (yes, it's that precise) because Julia, (who else?) had been awake and I hadn't seen the whole game the night before (Saturday night's game) because we were so far ahead and because I was falling asleep on the couch. So I stayed up with Julia from 4:22 on because I was trying to find a news channel or sports channel that would just give me the score. That didn't happen til after 6:00. And yes, I could have just gone online, but Julia and I were snuggled up nice and cozy on the couch, and I didn't feel like moving except to press buttons on the remote.
Anyway (and be warned, I will ramble off in many directions as I babble away this morning), last night Bill and I were in it for the long haul. Because - this could be IT! So we watched and cheered and occasionally, as the game went on, dozed off for a few minutes - him in the big chair, curled up like a contortionist to fit all 6'2" of him comfortably, and me on the couch, stretched out and comfortable.
And then it was the 7th inning. And the 8th. And I swear there were like 850 commercials played in between innings or at the halfway point or whenever there was a pitching change. The same commercials. Again and again. And we were both just begging for the game to come back on so we could prop our eyelids open and watch and be one step closer to winning and to sleep.
And it was so NERVE WRACKING!!! A one run lead was not a COMFORTABLE lead.
And then it was the bottom of the ninth. And we were wide awake and I was perched on the edge of the couch, leaning forward toward the TV as though somehow that would help. After the first out, I snuck a quick look at Bill and his eyes met mine, and then we both looked away, like this might jinx it. Same thing after the second out. So close....so close....
May I just state right now that I am in love with so many of our guys. I was just yelling it at them - like an idiot girly fan. But whatever. They can't hear me. I can be an idiot if I want. But not that girly - I'm in love with how they play. How HARD they play.
And then - down to the last out. The last strike. And - there it was. At 12:06 by our clock.
I was off the couch and jumping up and down - in a crouch, because the ceiling in the basement is kind of low, and can you imagine that? Knocking myself out like that? It would be kind of funny. Eventually.
Anyway. We watched a bit longer, watched them show all the players, all the camera shots, as the realization hit them all and those cautious, waiting expressions just fell away and they were all leaping up and down with joy. I could watch that again and again. I couldn't stop smiling and laughing.
And then - it just figures, doesn't it? Julia woke up. WIDE awake.
I said it in 2004 when she would wake me up during the postgame season to see miracles happen at weird hours of the night - she is a Fan. And I say it again. She must have sensed that we won, and she just wanted to be a part of it.
So I brought her downstairs, and we snuggled together, wrapped in a blanket, and watched, for a while longer, the jumping up and down and the champagne flying everywhere and the ecstatic expressions on the faces of these phenomenal men - and the little boys inside of them who still can't quite believe that they get to do this for a living.
My mom belonged to a local garden club when I was a kid - and well beyond that, actually. They did a lot to make the town look nice - the trees planted along main street were their doing, for instance. "Project Beautification" is a program I seem to remember...
Anyway, another project one year was a little cookbook called Indian Run Gardeners Cook Book. The name "Indian Run" refers (if memory serves) to a little brook that runs parallel to part of Route 108 near Old Mountain Field. All the members of the club provided a menu and at least one recipe for that menu.
Don't know if I ever mentioned this before, but when I was pregnant with Julia - before we knew she was a she - Bill firmly believed (or hoped desperately) that our next child would be another boy. Because, according to him, his side of the family only produced boys. The oldest of the three brothers had two sons. The middle brother had - well, a son...and a daughter. But somehow she was dismissed as a fluke, and we were bound to have another boy. According to my husband.
I didn't care one way or another - I was just looking for a healthy baby. If it was another boy - fine, they could share a room and toys and hand-me-downs. If it was a girl - fine, we'd eventually need to figure out the bedroom situation, but in the meantime, they could share a room and toys and hand-me-downs.
When I was somewhere around the half-way point, we went in for an ultrasound to find out if the baby was developing okay and (Bill's choice) to find out the gender. I got my way with Alex - I didn't want to know. So, to be fair, if Bill wanted to know this time, that was okay.
I remember lying on the table twisting my neck around to see the screen during the ultrasound. I loved ultrasounds. I loved seeing the tiny creature growing inside me. Didn't love the two ultrasounds that gave me bad news, of course. But this was now, and my baby was growning and moving and - presumably - healthy. The woman doing the ultrasound was a pro - quick and efficient and calm. She showed us various bones and said everything was developing normally, everything looked good, right on track, and so forth.
And then - "Did you want to know the sex?" Yep. She was silent for a moment as she moved the scope around, and then - "It's a girl." Not open to discussion or debate. She was certain.
I burst out laughing. Healthy, first and foremost, and - a girl. I looked over at Bill who, fortunately, was sitting in a chair to my left, not standing. If he had been standing before the announcement, he would have been falling at the word "girl." I know it's a cliche, but he really had that deer in the headlights look about him. I laughed more. The radiologist pointed out the proof - where something might have been right there between the legs, it very clearly wasn't in this picture. And she'd been doing this for something like 20 years, so even though there was certainly a possibility that she'd be wrong, she was pretty damn sure she was right.
Bill continued to look shell-shocked for the whole drive home, and remained terrified for the rest of the pregnancy. And several months after Julia was born. She didn't have boy stuff, she had girl stuff, and girl stuff is scary to men who think they will only father sons.
He got over it, in a way, though I think there is still a part of him that will always be terrified of having a daughter. Not so much because of her, but because fathering a daughter is a whole different ballgame from fathering a son.
As another Bill sang in "Carousel" - "You can have fun with a son, but you gotta be a father to a girl."
It's scary stuff.
Flash forward a few years.
This morning is foggy and occasionally rainy. A slight breeze sways the treetops, but otherwise all is calm, still. A perfect morning to go trout fishing. Originally Bill was going to take both kids and give me uninterrupted time to type or whatever. But Alex didn't want to. I told Bill to go alone if he wanted to - I knew he was itching to go. He went downstairs to get a couple of freshwater poles from the racks and a moment later, up came Julia with her pink Barbie pole.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"I'm going fishing!" she announced, in her Dora underwear and her ruby slippers. "I'm going fishing with Daddy!" I told her she'd need a few more articles of clothing on first.
Bill came upstairs and, yep, he was taking Julia with him.
I used to go fishing with my father, and with his father. I was Julia's age - Julia's age! - when I caught 14 choggies - little saltwater fish related to blackfish. I seem to remember a photo of me standing with all my catch laid out on a cookie sheet or something. I need to check with my father to see if he has a copy somewhere....
Anyway - this morning.
Bill got Julia dressed warmly and ready to go...
And I took pictures (big surprise) - because this is what I knew would happen, ever since that day in the radiologist's office when I laughed and Bill quaked. Because this is the wonderful part of fathers and daughters.
And I know - it's not always like this. I'm doubly blessed - as a daughter, and now, watching my own daughter and her father.
Take your daughter fishing. Teach her to use a hammer and a screwdriver and a saw and a wrench...and how to throw overhand and how to catch with a glove, and how to catch a football and how to shuck scallops and clams and oysters, and how to bait a hook and gut a fish. Or to play guitar. Or whatever.
Not that mothers can't teach their daughters these things as well. Of course they can. But I'm not talking about that right now.
I'm just smiling here, to myself, because my baby girl and my husband have gone fishing.
And though neither one of them may realize it right now, or for many years, these are special, precious, important times.
Leigh over at Red Pony Farm tagged me yesterday, so here goes. I wanted to think about it a bit first, but the World Series is preventing me from much independent thinking right now. And from sleep.
So here goes....
1. I used to want to be a private detective. My best friend and I (we were around 11 or so, I guess) had our own detective agency, complete with a sign on the door.
2. I have a scar just below my left knee from a bicycle accident that occurred while on my paper route a week before I turned 13. I had 6 stitches. I watched the whole thing - very cool.
3. I was a vegetarian for nearly a year. I passed up lobster...but I couldn't make it through Thanksgiving and Christmas meatlessly.
4. Before I was old enough to get a driver's license, I had an idea of what I wanted my first car to look like. I didn't know what make or model, but I wanted it to be red on the hood, then blend into purple, and then blend into blue at the trunk.
5. The first time I ever flew anywhere, I was in college, going to visit a friend in Texas. The first leg landed in Austin. As we were descending, motion sickness got me and I threw up into my hands. (Yes, there was someone sitting next to me. No one I knew.) A flight attendant came by and asked if I was all right, and I sort of held up my vomity hands as an offering (evidence that no, I wasn't all right) and she recoiled, handed me an airsick bag and hurried away. She came by again a bit later, after I'd cleaned up, and this time I held out the bag for her, but no, she didn't want to touch that, either. I threw it away in the bathroom myself. It was a mortifying and disgusting experience. Fortunately, it hasn't ever happened again.
6. When I was a kid, I once stepped on a dead baby bird that had fallen out of a tree in our yard. The bird was covered with dirt, for the most part. I still remember the odd squishy feel of its stomach under my sneaker.
7. I don't like cauliflower.
8. I really like McDonalds cheeseburgers.
There. That's what I can come up with this morning. I hope it was exciting and enlightening for you all.
Time to go get my kids ready for school and daycare. And me ready for work.
Yesterday we had a little Halloween party for our kids and some of Alex's friends. I had them decorate halloween cookies, and originally I was going to have some sort of haunted part of the house with stuff to touch, like cold spaghetti for brains (or guts) and peeled grapes for eyeballs.
But Saturday I felt like I was coming down with something, and I really didn't have any desire to peel grapes.
So instead, I made a spider web in the back yard and then wove separate lengths of string from the gate through the web and ultimately to their little goodie bags hidden around the edges of the yard.
Here's the view from our second floor:
The original web was more web-like in appearance. This is after I wove all the string mazes through it all. The whole web was about chest high on me, so taller than Alex, and he's the tallest of the group of kids. So no child was decapitated during the event.
And you know, it was the best fun, making this thing. Especially the original web itself. I was out there by myself laughing with delight. (So I'm sure I looked like quite the lunatic to anyone walking by...)
And it went pretty well, the game part. It was a little frustrating for some of them, having to follow the strings and unloop them from the main web lines, but still, everyone ended up with chocolate eyeballs and spooky tattoos and rubber bats and spiders, so overall, the web maze was a success.
I actually thought of writing "Boo" or something in the web, but I didn't have enough string. Maybe next year....
Once again, I have free time - about half an hour - and I stare at the screen of my laptop and my mind looks exactly like this:
Yes. It's scary. I don't like the feeling. I can usually summon up a ton of annoying "listen to what my kids just did/said/drew/threw/sang/danced/destroyed/ate" stories. But this morning...not a one.
I'm sitting here on the love seat next to the large front window in our living room. (The main floor living room, the one with the fireplace and the lizard tank...not the basement living room, which has the giant mess of too many toys and the fish tank.) I like sitting here while I type, because I can look outside at the still-blooming geraniums and those little pink flowers, whatever they are, in the window box, and also look at the leaves turning colors and falling to the ground across the street.
I'm so glad it finally feels like autumn. My favorite season. So glad the leaves have finally really begun to change colors. I like the overall effect - the crisp, cool air, the blue sky, the fiery calico of reds and golds and yellows, and the orange of the pumpkins on front steps.
This is about where I should bombard you with pictures I've taken of all these autumn leaves...only I don't have any at the moment. I haven't taken pictures of any of them yet. And today, despite my loving description in the previous paragraph, is actually a bit muggy and not at all crisp, it's drizzly, there's rain in the forecast, and I'll need to get ready for work soon. Hopefully this weekend I can get out and capture some of the current colors. Sunday is supposed to be nice.
So, in the meantime, and because I have an echo chamber inside my skull instead of anything creative or productive, here is a picture from nearly a month ago, when it felt like summer, and the colors were different, but just as bright.
As I mentioned yesterday, we had a dinner of German food this past Saturday night. In my previous post I talked about the sauerkraut my husband made. Next up is his mother's mother's onion cake recipe.
We found this recipe in one of the notebooks I "inherited" when my mother-in-law passed away almost five years ago. The other recipes before it were various cookies - such as all the holiday cookies that she made every year and sent out to family. There were also a few bread and cake recipes - all hand-written.
At some point in early September we decided that we would, for sure, have an Oktoberfest gathering of a few friends and family. Bill brewed a Dunkel Weizen (a dark wheat beer) and we had assorted bottles of other German beers on hand. We also had a couple bottles of wine - a Reisling that Bill made a year ago and a Gewurtztraminer that he picked up along with some of the beer. No one drank either of the white wines. Instead, the wine drinkers had some Italian reds. There was sparkling cider for the older kids, and juice for the younger.
I don't know why I'm procrastinating, but I am. I'm home today - Julia has some kind of virus that sent her home from daycare yesterday with a low grade fever and red splotches - looks like a rash but there's no "texture" to it on her skin. And it's not chicken pox. And she seems perfectly fine, too. She was a bundle of energy yesterday, and thoroughly perky and jolly at the doctor's office, and she's been a busy little bee this morning as well.
She has been my "excuse" for not sitting down and typing. I figured she'd probably interrupt me too often for me to get much accomplished.
So instead, I did the following:
Filled and ran the dishwasher.
Put away the dry pots and things in the rack from last night.
Washed the dishes that were in the sink.
Reheated my coffee.
Made myself some breakfast.
Folded the laundry in the dryer, moved the wash into the dryer, and re-filled the washer.
Put a bunch of clean clothes and towels away.
Sat with Julia on the couch and watched 10 minutes of "Winnie the Pooh: Tiggerific Tales."
Read other blogs.
Folded another load of laundry, moved wash to dryer, and put another load in to wash.
Julia helped load the washing machine.
She also helped match up socks.
Removed all the summer clothes from the kids' bureaus and packed them away for next spring.
Put all the things Julia has outgrown in a laundry basket to be donated somewhere.
Tossed some clothes just too ratty to donate to anyone.
Helped Julia put her mittens on. (She got into the winter clothes. At one point she had put on a pink and white striped winter hat and one of the matching mittens. We haven't found the other mitten yet. That's probably why she ditched the solo mitten and wanted her sparkly pink PAIR of mittens on. The thumbs gave us problems, but we worked them out.)
Fixed lunch for Julia (Chef Boyardee ravioli) and emptied the dishwasher while she ate.
Brought her to bed for her nap (despite her protests) and tucked her in and gave her kisses.
Brought my laptop and some cookbooks I need to reference downstairs, put the food channel on the TV, turned the volume down a bit, and kicked my slippers off.
Heard a thud, and then the pitter patter of Julia's feet as she scurried down a flight and a half of stairs, and then listened to her laugh with delight when I told her to go back to bed. She laughed the whole way back to her room. She's up there now, staying in bed - or at least in her room - and playing and singing and not taking a nap. But that's okay. She will fall asleep eventually.
And I think that's everything. The dryer just shut off, so I feel the pull of fold-worthy clothes tugging at my elbow, but I am resisting.
So enough of this post. I have some food to talk about in the next one.
It's finally starting to feel like October, temperature-wise (80 degree weather does NOT, in my opinion, belong in October. Glad THAT's over.) and so yesterday Bill picked some more herbs and I packed them in oil and froze them, like I talked about in this post a while back. This time I added oregano, chives, tarragon and thai basil to the collection in the freezer, along with some more sage and basil, because we just have so much of them.
Bill also pulled the cilantro plants, which had ceased looking like cilantro and had transformed into seed-bearing coriander plants, like so:
While he and the kids pulled up the strawberry bed (we need to put them in a better spot next year - they just haven't been doing well where they were.) I picked all the little seeds off the coriander plants.
This was not as tedious as it may sound - it was kind of relaxing, actually. No thinking involved. Just picking the seeds....
I've left them in a bowl to finish drying out, and then we'll put them in a jar with the other herbs and spices and use them for spice mixtures and rubs throughout the winter.
We got an email from Bill's cousin Beth this morning. All it said was "Go Tribe!!!!!" - she's from Ohio, but that's not her fault. So we've got a nice friendly little rivalry going. Previously united in our wish for the Yankees to fold...now, we are sworn enemies. At least for this series.
No cooking tonight - Bill is to order a pizza so that it's ready by the time I get home with the kids. We will eat, do whatever minimal clean up is necessary, and then we will park ourselves in front of the TV for the game tonight. The kids will just have to fend for themselves. (haha - ONLY KIDDING.)
Less than 12 hours to wait...it's going to be a long day. Sigh.
You'll notice the pink on this website - about 11 days later than it should be, but better late than never. I've also got a button over on the right that you can click on to help provide free mammograms for women that need them. Please click! (I absolutely copied this from another site because sometimes I haven't thought ahead about things.) (Rambling on...sorry.)
Anyway - in memory of my late sister-in-law, Diane, who successfully fought breast cancer many years ago but lost the battle to bone cancer earlier this year, and in support of my cousin's girlfriend, Roseleen, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, had a mastectomy and so far, so good...for these two women in particular I have changed the barefoot color scheme to pink.
This past Saturday night, Bill and I went out. Just the two of us. Like grownups! On a date! Dinner AND a movie!
We'd made plans to see Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix at the Feinstein Imax Theatre in Providence. It was a 7:40 show, and our babysitter was due around 4:00, so we had around three whole hours!!! to have dinner and hang out.
Giddy with our freedom, we set off. I brought my camera along for the ride because gradually it is grafting itself to my hand and eventually I will never ever go anywhere without it. (Because the times I do leave without it, I kick myself later because I've missed SOMETHING interesting to photograph.)
We parked in the mall parking lot on one of the theatre levels and then walked to Union Station Brewery for dinner. Bill had their Lobster Bisque, which he shared with me, and oh MY was it fabulous. We were a bit skeptical, because there were no chunks of lobster meat in it, like you see much of the time, but the flavor - it was perfect. Creamy and rich and LOBSTERY and a whisper of cognac (I'm guessing) floating in the background. I would have swooned, but then Bill would have finished up all the bisque himself, and that would never do.
Food-wise, he had a huge salad of Thai chicken and noodles over an assortment of fresh greens. I didn't try it but it looked very good. He said the chicken was a little bit dry, but the dressing compensated for it. I had their Pizza Number 4. The crust was thin and crisp and texture-wise more like a pie or biscuit than a yeast dough. The menu said their crusts make use of the spent grains from the brewing process, and I could see specks of brown which were probably bits of those grains. The bottom of the crust was also crunchy with cornmeal. I would have been happy with the crust all by itself. On top of the crust were the following: shredded smoked chicken, caramelized onions, some garlicky oil, gorgonzola, and scallions. I may be forgetting something, but those were the highlights for me. Caramelized onions. Yum.
I should have taken pictures of the food, but oh well, I didn't. I did, however, take a shot of the beer menu on the wall near our table:
Union Station Brewery makes their own beer, of course, and the choices are always changing - mainly with the seasons, but more often than 4 times a year.
Bill started with their Oktoberfest and I ordered their sampler so I could try a bit of all five. His beer was actually nearly flat, and the waitress said they were having a problem with the tap system. She brought him another with a bigger head on it, which was better, but in Bill's opinion they should have told him up front. Ah well. Anyway, moving on - apart from the carbonation issue with the Oktoberfest, everything else was quite satisfying. The Northern Light was pale and nutty and, well, light. The Providence Pale was slightly hoppy - as it should be - but not overpoweringly so. Not everyone can deal with the bitterness. I'm not a huge fan of overly hopped beers, but I find mild to moderate hoppiness a perfect accompaniment to something rich and savory - like that bisque. The IPA - India Pale Ale - had a stronger hoppy flavor (again, as it should) and Bill really liked that. (Of course he had to sample all my samples. Annoying beer brewer that he is.) The Oktoberfest was nicely spiced and yummy. And the Espresso Stout...well. I love Stouts and Porters, and I particularly love them with some sort of coffee element added. I had Red Hook's Double Black Stout years ago in Seattle and was - pardon the pun - hooked. Anyway, this Espresso Stout did not disappoint - it was creamy and smooth and dark and roasty and rich. The perfect end to the meal.
Stuffed to the gills, we paid the bill and headed back outside. Saturday night was warm, summery and alive. People everywhere, lots of outdoor seating at all the nearby restaurants, a beautiful night.
We headed toward the water...
Saturday night's Waterfire was sponsored by the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation. I'd heard something about it on the radio a few days prior, but forgot all about it until we saw the banner. We heard Anthony Gemma welcoming everyone and talking about his mother, in whose memory the foundation was created. Piano music followed, and more and more people gathered.
We walked, and I took pictures...
Our State House. With the second-largest unsupported dome in the world. Gorgeous, isn't it?
We started heading over to the Providence Place mall, wending our way toward the Imax Theatre for our 7:40 Harry Potter date.
Also, Bill needed to find a bathroom. We headed to Borders and had lattes and hung out a bit longer...until...Harry Time.
As we walked toward the doors, we could see that the sky was now dark, and there seemed to be a parade of fire marching past the mall. Earlier, as we'd crossed the street, I had seen a ton of people assembled on the front steps of the State House. Ah - here they are. We hurried outside.
It was a moving and powerful sight...
Every one of them affected somehow by breast cancer. They marched down the street, and we could feel the heat of the flames as they went by.
The march continued on down toward the water, and part of me wanted to follow them. My eyes felt prickly. My heart went out to them. I felt so many things in just those few minutes - sad, helpless, hopeful, awed....
We watched the distant flames a bit longer, but we had a movie to see. And so we turned away. Slowly.
I've never been before but our friends went last year. It's very much a country fair, only on a smaller and single-themed scale. There were a few fun things for the kids to do, including a pony ride, and there was food. But most importantly, there was the 1,000 lb pumpkin drop.
That was at noon, so we made sure to arrive in time to watch this most exciting part of the event.
A crane was set up in a fenced off area and a big pumpkin was lifted way, way up high.
And then, the pumpkin was released,
And it fell down, down, down...
And then the crowd cheered. Hooray! We've dropped a vegetable from a great height and it smashed! Yay!
Almost immediately, people rushed to examine the remains. Small children carried around chunks of pumpkin innards as souvenirs.
Later on, they held the weigh-off. First, they weighed the giant hubbard squashes. There weren't as many of those - it's a newer category, and there aren't as many brave hubbard squash obsessives growers out there. Yet. After the hubbards, they started in on the pumpkins.
After each vegetable was weighed, it was transported out of the competition ring and set off to the side, where children and their parents could pose for pictures with them.
Like this. (It was a very bright, hot, sunny day. Can't you tell?)
And where was Julia? See that orange, pumpkin-shaped cage way in the back, there? That's the pumpkin ride. When I heard there was a pumpkin ride, I thought kids would, you know, ride on the pumpkins. Um, no. It's a hayride in a big pumpkin frame, drawn by a tractor. Bill and Julia bravely took the ride.
They also, as I mentioned, had pony rides, which was probably the highlight of the day for my kids.
We stayed a couple of hours - but eventually the heat and overwhelming pumpkin-ness got to the kids and they both wanted to go home. So we did.
They ate some Halloween Dunkin Donuts Munchkins on the way home...
It was about a 45 minute ride.
And within twenty minutes...
And they were both out.
If you want to see all the pictures, they're posted here.
I started making dinner around nine this morning. After yesterday's summer-like heat, this morning there was a very chilly breeze shaking up the leaves and cooling things down. The perfect day to make a sauce...
It is set in motion now. And I can see the distant cliff, and I begin to approach it, knowing that in a couple of months I will step off the comfort of solid and dependable earth and jump into the unknown. In the meantime, I need to try to sprout some wings so I don't crash to the rocks below. Big enough wings to support my weight and all the other weight I am responsible for in my life. Big enough, at least, to let me glide around, even if I end up at the bottom.
But it's partly inevitable, and partly welcome, and I think I need to do this, and I must believe that it is meant to be, and that good will come of it.
Yesterday I left work early with a skull-crushing headache. Tension and stress, plus the change in the weather, and I was down for the count. I came home, where Bill was with Julia. Julia, as I think I mentioned the other day, came home from daycare Tuesday with a 104 degree fever. She wasn't allowed back until she had been fever-free for 24 hours, so Bill stayed home with her on Wednesday.
When I arrived, he was cleaning the music room and Julia was playing with legos. I pretended to be interested in what was going on until Bill told me to just go upstairs and go to bed. That seemed the sensible thing to do, so I said goodnight to Julia and headed to bed.
A few minutes later, as I lay there with my eyes closed, trying to release all the cast iron bars of tension that had formed across my shoulders and up the back of my head for days, my bedroom door opened and Julia came in and got up on the bed. She gave the cat a few energetic pats on the head and then a slightly more gentle hug, and then looked at me with great concern as she felt my forehead and my cheek, as I had done to her the day before. She comforted me a bit more, and then hopped off the bed and left the room, "bye bye mommy" as she closed the door. That was nice.
I could hear the vacuum cleaner going - Bill had cleared up all the sheet music and located the floor, apparently. That's okay, it wouldn't last long and it was just white noise anyway. So I concentrated some more on trying to release tension and loosen my jaw - I noticed recently that I've been clenching my teeth a lot - and then the door opened again and my perky little attention-craving daughter climbed back on the bed.
"Mommy? Can I draw?"
"Sure, Julia, go downstairs and ask Daddy for some crayons and paper."
"Noooooo, I want to draw with marrrrkerrrrrrrrs!"
Fine. Bill was still vacuuming and wouldn't hear her anyway. I got her a sketch pad and the washable markers she is allowed to use on the bed, and she settled down at the far corner and chattered on as she scribbled. My participation wasn't required - she was apparently talking to herself. So I closed my eyes and, again, tried to relax.
"Mommy, I'm done."
"Okay sweetie. Go ahead downstairs. And could you please close the door?"
"Okay Mommy!" And off she went. She's so cute sometimes.
Next, Bill got out the FloorMate so he could clean the hardwoods. When he's on a mission, he doesn't stop. More noise. But whatever. It's not a big room. I rolled onto my side and squished the pillow into a better position under my head.
"Mommy? What are you doing?" She came trotting around to my side of the bed and looked at me with a huge smile.
"Mommy's head hurts. I'm trying to sleep. Could you go back downstairs and play with the legos some more?"
"Oh, sweetiepie, you don't feel good?" All concern as she patted my brow.
"No, Julia, I don't feel good. I really need to sleep." (hint hint. which is a complete waste of time with a three-year-old.) Could you please go back downstairs so I can take a nap? I'll see you later."
"Are these your glasses?" She picks them up from the nightstand and gives them to me.
"Is this your clip?" She hands me a hair clip that is actually hers, but I was using it to keep bangs out of my eyes earlier.
"Is this yours?" She hands me a coaster from Red Hook Brewery in Seattle. Bill and I went there nearly 10 years ago. I thank her.
"Okay, sweetie, I REALLY need to take a nap, and you REALLY need to go downstairs. Okay?" I am pleading. I am desperate.
"Okay." She reluctantly leaves the room.
"Julia? Could you please close the door?"
I take deep, slow breaths and uncurl my fetal-positioned legs and arms...I uncurl my carpal-tunnel-clawed hands. RELAX.
"Hi Mommy!" The tornado spills back into the room. Her bare feet slap determinedly on the floor as she rounds the foot of the bed to look at me. She is smiling, and I hate to spoil her fun, but this is NOT helping and my HEAD HURTS and I REALLY need to take a nap and WHY can't Bill notice that she KEEPS DOING THIS TO ME????
"Julia," I groan, "I really, really need a nap. You NEED to go DOWN STAIRS so I can sleep."
"I don't want to!" She stares at the little ceramic duck and goose on my bureau. My mother made them when I was little. She took ceramics classes back then and glazed a lot of greenware for everyone over the years. The goose's neck was broken once, but still it survives. Julia thinks if she ignores me, I will be quiet and let her stay. Not this time.
"Julia. You need to go DOWN stairs NOW. PLEASE. NOW." I feel mean, but my head hurts and I need sleep.
She still won't look at me. "FINE!" she hollers, and I fast forward to her teen years and a cold chill runs down my spine. She stomps out of the room and closes the door behind her.
And then, less than a second later, she opens the door again - and SLAMS it shut.
I can't help but laugh. And then, finally, I sleep.
Last week at this time I was in the process of making a birthday cake for the boyfriend of a friend of mine. In order to keep the kids from trying to grab bits of cake off the final product, I told them we'd make cupcakes on Saturday. So we did.
I used a regular boxed cake mix, and just for kicks I substituted a 14 oz can of pumpkin puree for the oil called for in the recipe. And I shook in some pumpkin spice mix too. We all took turns stirring the batter until it was nicely blended, and then I spooned the batter into mini muffin tins. The kids had had the task of putting all the mini paper cupcake liners in each pan. I think we made about five dozen of them. And they were pretty good too - more moist than usual, due to all the pumpkin puree in there. I think I put a bit too much of the spice mixture in, though. But no harm done.
I let the kids each eat one once they were cool enough, but then it was time for Julia to go to bed. After she was tucked in, Alex and I frosted about a dozen of them and decorated them with mini M&Ms and little sugar Harry Potter-themed decorative shapes. Alex proudly showed Daddy his work, and we all had a little chocolatey pumpkiny goodness before Alex had to go to bed.
The next morning, both kids finished frosting the cupcakes and sprinkling additional colorful sugar on them.
We're watching the Red Sox/Angels game right now. It's currently the top of the 6th, we're ahead 4-0.
It's dark outside, we're inside in the basement living room. There are some toys scattered around the floor. The kids went to bed about 40 minutes ago. Bill has been eating some sort of Starburst candy things (ugh).
And I'm eating saltines and slices of cheddar.
Saltines and cheddar and baseball - suddenly I have caught a whiff of freshly cut grass on a breeze across my memory...the sky is bright blue, the sun is shining, the back yard is light green dappled with dark beneath the shade of the maples.
There is a radio plugged into the outlet in the barn, and a ballgame is on. The Sox are playing somewhere. It is probably a Sunday afternoon. Mom is working in the flower beds. Dad has mowed the lawn. Now he's relaxing in a lawn chair, drinking Schaeffer ("...the one beer to have, when you're having more than one") from a can, or maybe it's Schlitz. We kids have ginger ale. And there are saltines and cheddar cheese for a snack.
We probably weren't listening to the game all that much, my sister and me, but the sound of the game is still the theme song of this summer memory. The rise and fall of the commentators as things happen or don't happen on the field, and the accompanying crescendo and decrescendo of voices from the stands. They blend with the cars going by on Main Street, birds calling from the trees, a dog barking, kids yelling somewhere down the street. Time stretched for miles and hours in all directions.
Now it is years later. Time seems to shrink as I try to cram all I want to accomplish into the faster and faster beating of the clock. Today was a tough day for me, and I left work early with a crushing headache. I came home to take a nap and try to relax and let go of a mountain of built-up tension. The headache has gone, and this evening I am lazy, resting on the couch with pillows and a blanket. I try to stay snug in this relaxed, sleepy state and not think of anything other than the game on TV and, for the moment, this laptop and my thoughts of yesterday. The tension will try to come back, but it can wait until tomorrow.
For while it is dark outside and cozy-dark inside on this October night, as I listen to this game and bite into crispy saltine and sharp cheddar, it is a lazy summer afternoon from my childhood as well.
"All of my stuffed animals are circus animals...even me!" (Alex)
Yesterday I got a call at work around noon - Julia had a fever of 104 - so I changed my voicemail and sent a quick email to people to let them know I had to leave. When I arrived at daycare, all the other little kids were asleep on their cots, covered with blankets, except Julia. She sat on a little chair, a blanket across her lap, waiting quietly. They had given her tylenol, but it hadn't kicked in yet. She still felt hot when I carried her to the car, and she was sad-sounding "Mommy, I don't feel good...."
We hung out on the couch and watched Dora and other movies until we both dozed off.
Today she's still warm - 101 - so my husband is staying with her for the day. And Alex has to go to kindergarten. Bill's downstairs explaining this to him now. Wonder how that will go.
Okay, I thought I'd be able to post more, but apparently not. Gotta go get Alex moving along. And me.