Thursday, April 26, 2012

Addie calls me in

to the bathroom while she's having a bath, and asks me to take this picture:

She calls this particular costume "Aging Harry Potter with Beard."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I'm feeling bad about that last post, and worried that you might think my stepdad is some kind of monster. He really isn't.  But he was pretty angry, a lot, when I was a kid, and sometimes bordered on violent.  I am the only one in my family who talks about this, and sometimes I wonder if my memories are fabricated or exaggerated, but I don't think so.  I've tried to talk with both my mom and my dad at various times, and neither can do it.  My mom gets a faraway look in her eyes and changes the subject, and I intentionally tried to schedule a breakfast with just my dad once, in my twenties, and he wouldn't go.  I think he knew what it was about, and didn't want to go there.  That was probably a good thing.  And my brother was four and a half years younger, and my dad's preferred.  So his experience was pretty different from mine.

I'm alone in trying to figure out what happened and what was real, in other words.

My dad (he's my stepdad, but mostly raised me, so I refer to him as dad) had huge hands, and he was quite physical with them.  He was also really, really strong...we all used to joke about him not knowing his own strength.  And he sometimes hurt me, as a kid.  He spanked (I think most parents back then did) but also sometimes worse.  I spent a lot of time feeling hurt and angry about this in my teenage years and growing up into my twenties.

But now I have a slightly different perspective, I guess.  I try to think about what was going on with him and our family when I was a kid.  It can't have been easy for my parents, for a long time.  He married my mom out of another marriage, and they divorced really soon after marrying, then remarried.  We all had to move around the country a lot as he followed work.  I was a mouthy kid, maybe precocious or even bratty, and I was another man's daughter.  Then the move to Saudi Arabia, and my mom's breakdown, having a new baby, my brother.  Then him losing jobs, and all of us ending up back at his folks' house.  Probably not the vision he had in mind moving forward.

And on top of all that, he had alimony and child support on three kids from a previous marriage to pay. So I suppose I get it a little better now that he might have been losing his shit now and then.  Because I have stress in my life, but guaranteed nothing like that shit.  And I lose my temper a lot.  If I had that kind of sky-high level of stress that he must have had, I'd probably be swinging at some things too.

Becoming a parent in my own right has given me that little bit of perspective, which is good.

And then I want to remember, too, all the times he was very gentle and supportive of me.  He has always been proud of me and my brother, I know that.  I remember a time in high school when I came home devastated with a broken heart, and he listened so sweetly and kindly, and spoke wisely and lovingly, and it healed me right up.  There were other times like that, too, lots of them.  Once I screwed up on my taxes really badly in graduate school and he just redid them for me and then gave me a couple thousand dollars to pay the taxes, from money he had just gotten when his uncle died.  He definitely didn't have to do it, but he did it without pausing. Fixed it just like that.  He loves his grandkids like nothing else.  And he has taken care of my mom through all of her difficulties, while he had his own life-threatening battle with cancer to deal with.

So all in all, he's a pretty damned stand-up guy, in a lot of ways.  I just wanted to make sure the record showed it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Don't Look for it on iTunes

My step-dad would reach around from the front seat of the car and smack us in the face if we sang in the car too loudly along with the radio.  Which was pretty much my favorite thing to do because I was totally obsessed with music as a kid.  And still am.  Also, I thought I had a really good singing voice, and was probably belting out some Whitney Houston or Wham! at the top of my lungs.  That probably got a little annoying.

I used to think he was smacking us just because he was mean (well, it was kind of mean) but it was also because he was going deaf-like and was probably just freaking out at not being able to hear traffic noise, or himself think.  Also, I'm actually not a very good singer, so I might have smacked me too, had I been a grumpy old dude going deaf-like.

Okay, enough apologizing for him and his weirdness.

Anyway, contrast that with this fine man, hanging with his kids on a Monday night:

It's only a minute long.  You're welcome.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Addie on her 8th

I'm late writing this.  We had a party for Ms. Addie last Friday night with all of the girls from her 2nd grade class.  There was a lot of squealing and running around, and Eric launched a pinata off the roof of the house after the handle broke and we couldn't hang it.  It was a great party.

This has been quite the year for our many changes as she has emerged from being a child into being a pre-adolescent.  A lot of her whininess (some of it pretty bratty, there, for a while) has disappeared and now there is this sweet, sensitive, smart, funny girl.  Here is what I see in Addie at 8:

1)  A fierce desire to do things on her own, but also a total willingness to seek help when she struggles.
2)  A strong sense of her own likes and dislikes.  She is not likely to dress like anybody else if it means not feeling totally comfortable in what she is wearing, for example, and she's got strong opinions about books, movies, and people.
3)  A girl who loves hugs, kisses, and cuddles, even as it is difficult for her to sit still long enough to enjoy them for very long.
4)  Someone who is in constant movement.  When watching t.v. she bounces relentlessly on the couch or fusses with a blanket around her feet; when reading, hair is always in her mouth (and it got caught off this year because it was always sopping wet).  She is swept up in the excitement and emotion of things easily, which I think speaks to her massive heart and excitement for life.
5)  A lover of nature still, always.  A lover of books still, always.
6)  A daughter who wants quiet time with me and her Dad, more than anything, but who is also quite independent and able to be on her own for long stretches of time.
7)  A builder of legos; drawer of very detailed pictures; lover of spaghetti and pizza; boss of her sister and sometimes her friends; tall; thin; music-lover; shy-girl and comedienne.
8)  A granddaughter who is never happier than when in one of her grandmother's laps having her hair smoothed.
9)  A baby giraffe on the soccer field, still, but getting better and better all the time, especially at defense.
10)  A young lady emerging into her own.  She asked her friends for presents that we wouldn't have probably okayed had we known (those later Harry Potter movies will have to wait); a girl who answers the phone on her own; a girl starting to ask questions about how bodies and politics and the world works.
11)  And still, forever, my baby.

Happy birthday, my first born.  You are always in my heart.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Then, sometimes, it's best just to go get your toes done.  Your lemur, Whipped Cream, can come along and keep you company.

Following up your first-ever pedi with some hammock time is also highly recommended.

Going Back

Going Back

Feet padding straight
down the hall
into the nightmare
itself without stopping

We scoop great purple
handfuls of it onto
our heads, its sour
benediction sharp
on the tongue.

whine shave and a haircut, two bits

we begin again, but
only now 
after the wine
after the fire

The hollows of winter
come again.
Memories, unbottled, scurry
themselves into the corners and snicker.
Orphans swarm the leaves
and are eaten by ladybugs.
Man noise rattles the aspens.

I am one who consumes.
I eat my words
and everything else.

Still we begin again
The day begins again

This is why we train, I think.  We train not so we get somewhere with something, or so that we accomplish something, but so that we learn we must always go back and begin again.  I couldn't run for three weeks because of a flu that wouldn't go away, and still I picked up my shoes and began again this week, huffing, puffing, and trudging down the street.  I might have a meditation session where for the whole ten minutes I think only of the new eyeshadow I want to try.  And still I will meditate again today, and will maybe have a few minutes of quiet.  I use harsh words with my girls, forgetting how much more powerful and effective love is.  Still I will try again to come to them with love.  We train not to move forward, but so that we don't forget to always come back.  To always try again.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Like the Other Humans

It's bedtime and I'm sitting on Addie's bed while we listen to Allison Krauss croon it out and Addie is flopping all over the place like a slippery fish.  I'm itchy she says.

I sigh and decide not to react with frustration like usual.  Instead:  Addie, you know I read a book about you once, a book about kids like you.  Kids who are spirited.

She stops flopping.  Listens.

This book said that one of the things about being spirited is that you might be extra sensitive, your skin might feel itchy more than other people, or you might feel pain more than other people.  Small things might bother you more.  Like the tags on your shirts, you know?

Yeah she says.

But this book also said that one of the good things, one of the amazing things about being a spirited kid is that all that sensitivity might give you some gifts that the rest of us don't have.  Like it might help you to understand when other people are having strong feelings, or it might help you to connect to nature more than other people, or to connect to animals.  Your strong feelings and deep experiences may end up being a gift.

Stillness.  My hand on her chest.  Heartbeat slows.  She nods, snuggles in.  Glad I didn't blow it with just being frustrated again.

A few days later we are in the kitchen and she's itchy again.  I say maybe someday she will have her spiritedness show up in the other ways she talks about.  Yeah she says.  I'll feel different then.  Like the other humans.