Friday, December 20, 2013

Tree, meet acorn

Even as a kid, I had little tolerance for what I perceived to be people talking down to me, or for wussiness or bullshit.  I used to yell at my Tubby the Tuba record because I thought Tubby was exasperatingly little sissy.

My mother would walk by my bedroom door when I was listening, and hear me yell, "oh, Tubby, you fat little tuba!"

I was hyper-rational, never believing in monsters or Santa or the tooth fairy.  I played along when I was little, but deep down it wouldn't have occurred to me to think they were real.

I get frustrated with Zeke sometimes, because as bold and assertive as he is, he believes in and worries about EVERYTHING.  Any bad thing that he hears about or learns about, he obsesses about all of the various ways that bad thing could impact him (or Katy Perry -- when the terrible flooding hit Colorado in September, after seeking reassurance that our house wouldn't be swept away, his next worry was that Katy Perry's house would be hit.  I assured him that Katy would be OK because she doesn't live in Colorado).  I am the opposite.  I will take reasonable caution in a situation, but I generally don't assume the worst and I don't worry much about awful things happening.

I guess at Zeke's school they were talking about rattlesnakes one day as part of some science discussion, and Zeke grilled me for an hour that night about whether rattlesnakes were going to somehow slip into our house and eat him.

"Honey, there aren't rattlesnakes in Denver.  Rattlesnakes live in the desert, not in Congress Park."*

"But what about other snakes?  What other poisonous snakes are there that are around here."

"J, you wanna take this one?"

And he's all too susceptible to the suggestions of his friend Shaun, who apparently spends his days regaling Zeke with stories of monsters and vampires.

"Mama, can vampires get in our house?"


"How do you know?"

"Because there's no such thing as vampires."

"But Shaun says there are!"

"Who's smarter, me or Shaun?"


"Yep.  And I always will be.  Stop listening to that little punk."

Josie, however, is immune to the nonsense.

"I'm not afraid of monsters or vampires, Mama," she'll say in a superior voice, nose in the air, and basically accusing Zeke, to his face, of being a complete pussy.  "I'm not afraid of anything."  (And she really isn't.)

"Good.  You shouldn't be.  And don't taunt your brother.  Nobody likes a show off."

Last night I was sitting in bed reading Doris Kearns Goodwin's new book about Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the rise of the progressive movement.  The kids were sitting on the sofa in our bedroom, watching The Goodnight Show, a kids show on PBS involving a young woman named Nina and her friend Star, who is a star-shaped puppet.  Together they watch kids' cartoons, play games and get ready for bed. One of the games they play is a matching game.

The matching game drives Josie insane, because the version they play is so simplistic and babyish that basically you'd need to be unconscious not to be able to figure it out.

As I'm reading, I'm interrupted by the dulcet tones of my youngest, berating Nina and Star.



"Yes, Mama?" she responds, sweetly.

"Is everything OK?  What's going on?"

"Nothing, Mama.  Just watching The Goodnight Show.  Love you, Mama."

"Love you too, sweet pea."

That's my girl.
*I have absolutely no basis for saying this.  I have no idea if rattlesnakes can be found anywhere in Denver.  But I'm certainly not going to tell Zeke that, nor am I going to worry about it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A is for "nipple," and other updates

Even though I don't really use this space as a daily diary -- obviously, given the paucity of posts this year -- I love going back and reading about things that happened last year or the year before or in 2006.  So when I don't post, I feel bad, not because I'm depriving the world of my brilliant musings, but because I'm depriving myself of an important took I use for tripping down memory lane.  And I'm a nostalgic kinda chick.  One of the reasons I love reunions so much (and why they make me so emotional) is that I've known so many wonderful people and experienced so many wonderful experiences and lived in so many wonderful places, and I have an overwhelming desire to remember it all and keep it with me, in my heart and my brain, as much as possible.

It's been a difficult, busy few months.

The good news is, I'm still alive and functioning (mostly).
I managed to shake off the depression that had been hanging around since September.  It sapped my productivity and my motivation -- I haven't been exercising as regularly or eating as well as I should, which has exacerbated feeling down and sluggish.  It's so stupid -- I am so obviously aware of how exercise and healthy eating contribute to my mental health, and yet when I need it the most, I can't make myself do it. Drives me nuts.

On the "what's going on with my brain" front, I had an MRI last week.  It was very noisy, but otherwise unremarkable.  I'm still awaiting the results.

In any event, I am getting back on track.  P90X3 was just released (get amazing results in only 30 minutes a day!) and I'm going to be doing it post-New Year's with a great group of people.  So I can get ripped again just in time for spring break in Nicaragua.  Cannot wait.

The bad news is sad.
J's dad died last week.  He had been sick for years, but took a bad turn when he had a stroke about a month ago.  He was in hospital and his condition was deteriorating.  We were in Virginia visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, checking in with the Aussie relatives the whole time.  When we returned, we received a middle-of-the-night call from J's brother, letting us know that the doctors didn't think there was much time left, and that if anyone needed to come to Australia to say their final goodbyes, it needed to happen ASAP.  So we got on the phone and got a flight departing the following night.  J was able to spend precious last days telling his dad everything he wanted to tell him - how much he loved him, how much he looked up to him.  He also got precious time with his brothers and sister, and they were all able to lean on each other.

Denis died on Tuesday, December 10 (the day after our 8th wedding anniversary).  J said that his dad told him that he was ready to die, and that he looked more peaceful in death than he did in his final days alive.  I know he had been unhappy and uncomfortable for a long time.  I'm glad his suffering is over.

But of course, it's hard for J.  As much as we can acknowledge that it was time, it's still his dad.  Denis was a good man and a loving father.  And in all honestly, he was the only parental figure from J's childhood that ever did right by him -- the others were either useless or downright abusive.  (And if any of J's family is reading this, sorry, but it's true.  Believe me, I'm the one cleaning up the resulting emotional/psychological mess they made.)  So J is grieving, and the kids and I are doing our best to give him TLC.  Life goes on.

In other news, my kids are crazy and hilarious and fun.
Winter is upon us, which means it's ski season.  Zeke started ski camp a couple of weeks ago (it's 3 Saturdays in a row), and he LOVES IT.  The first day they stayed on a tiny little hill with an incline of maybe 2 degrees, going up and down via a magic carpet.  When I picked him up at the end of the day, he insisted on showing me how he was able to jump on his skis.  So we went over to the little beginner area and he skied down the hill, stopped half-way down, jumped in place on his skis, and then came down the rest of the way.
Zeke tears up the slopes.
Last Saturday they learned to use the rope tow to go up a slightly longer run that had some curves and terrain (little jumps) built in.  He mastered that, so I took him on his very first chair lift, to the top of a short green run.  He got off the lift perfectly, pointed his skis downhill, and whooped and hollered as he skied down.  So much fun.

Josie is a sassy little thing, and getting so smart and mischievous.  Whenever we're in the car, Zeke likes to play an alphabet game, where we pick a letter and then say words that start with that letter.  Josie can play, but she mostly likes to crack everyone up by coming up with some random word that starts with a different letter.

Zeke:  Let's do "M."
Me:  OK.  Machine.
J:  Macho!
Zeke: Motorcycle!
Josie: Mama!
Me: Monkey.
Josie: Apple!

And everybody cracks up.

We finally decided that when Josie uses a word that starts with a different letter, then the different letter is now the letter we have to use.

Josie:  Apple!
J:  OK, now we're on "A."
Zeke: Allosaur! (he just watched a documentary about allosaurs)
Me: Aardvark!
Zeke: America!
J: Africa!
Josie: Nipple!

And everybody cracks up.

'Tis the season to get some rest.
I'm tired.  J was gone for almost two weeks, and while my kids are crazy and hilarious and fun, they're also exhausting.  Between the logistics of being the one to do morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up and dinner and bath and play-time and bed and ski camp and laundry and on and on, I could use an extremely long nap.  So the Christmas break comes just in time.  I will be on leave from Monday, the 23rd, through January 1st.  I'll do some baking and we'll open presents from Santa and we'll ski and sled and watch movies and go to museums.  And, I'm hoping, get some sleep.