Friday, October 31, 2003
  Obligatory cute kids in their costumes entry.
Well, tonight the boys went with my Mom and Dad to go trick-or-treating. They could barely sit still for dinner. As a matter of fact, I can’t swear that they weren’t hovering a few millimeters above their chairs with nervous energy. Tre kept saying, “I’m so excited my stomach hurts. Just a little.” I’m really hoping it is excitement he’s feeling, and not the stomach bug that was going around recently. I keep having visions of him…rejecting all the multi-colored junk he’s just consumed. Keep your fingers crossed for us. Especially around 2 a.m.
Finally, despite my efforts to destroy their lives with black bean soup, dinner was over. They bounced into their costumes. Oh my. Today I wish I could post pictures. Tre was a ninja lord, all swathed in black and blue, and with an impressive plastic sword tied around his waist. He posed and leaped about for effect with great enthusiasm. Max was Batman. He had a fabulous sweeping cape and a Batman mask with the ears sticking up and slits for eyes that would have had a very ominous effect had he not been giggling quite so much. He also very much enjoyed striking poses to display his costume. Raphael was Superman. Of course. I tried to convince him this morning that he wanted to be Winnie the Pooh. After all, I have this adorable fuzzy Pooh costume that would fit him perfectly…and be a lot warmer than the Shoopershirt. “Look, honey,” I said enthusiastically, “you could be Pooh Bear! Wouldn’t that be great?” He sighed at me and patted his belly, upon which he already was wearing the Shoopershirt. “Mama,” he said slowly, as one might to a very stupid child, “Ah. Am. Shooperman.”
Alrighty then.
So I managed to peel the shirt off him so I could wash it, and tonight he wore it, complete with red cape. Dad kept trying to take pictures of the three of them in their costumes, but Raphael would sing his Shooperman song, “Ah’m Shooperman! Doot, do, do! Doot, do, dooo!” And then he’d take off running and making flying sounds. We managed to stop him from flying away long enough for at least a few pictures, and they were off.
They came home with great hauls of candy and we all sat around the kitchen table and ate …a little. I, for one, am ill. At one point I was digging out the 17th Almond Joy bar from Raphael’s stash and Mom asked me, “You like those things?” I looked at the candy in my hand (FUN SIZE – because apparently fun is 2.5 inches long…who knew?) and groaned, “Not any more.”
Max and Tre engaged in a spirited session of “I’ll trade ya.” I don’t think any trades were made, but the discourse was lively. Raphael sat quietly shoveling candy into his mouth until I wised up and took it away. He’s particularly fond of chocolate eyeballs. I think he ate enough to blind an entire chocolate village. And let me tell you, Raphael on a sugar high is not a pretty sight. Whoo.
But they’re all in bed now, and I’ve had a good hour to recover from my sick stomach, so I think I’ll go dig through their buckets.

  Ok, first of all let me say that I know that this particular subject gets old. I’m sure those of you who check in on my blog regularly (you do, don’t you?) sigh and click away when you see it’s yet another “divorce is so hard but life goes on” entry.
The thing is, divorce is….so hard.
But life goes on.
Tonight the boys carved pumpkins. We had fun. The front porch now sports two fabulously goofy jack-o-lanterns, and three mini pumpkins that were scribbled on by Raphael. The pumpkin grossness has been properly discarded of, the table wiped and the knives stowed safely away. I’ve got three boys tucked in bed, dreaming of their costumes and candy. The evening was happy and cozy and good.
This is something of a victory for us, because the last thing their father did with them before he left was to carve pumpkins. Two years ago tonight. Tre still has pumpkin seeds in his sock drawer from that night, because it was the last thing he did with his dad. My ex moved out on Halloween.
I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween. I don’t like spooky stuff, and besides, here in Denver it always seems to snow. I’d much rather be inside when it’s snowing. Ick. But after Halloween of two years ago, I outright hate it. I see the costumes in stores and remember Tre and Max that year. They were both knights. Knights who stopped between houses while trick-or-treating to sit down on the curb and stare and try to comprehend what had happened to their family.
You want a story of a haunted Halloween? Look at my boys’ faces when we spread out newspaper and bring out the pumpkins for carving. Max, who always deals with things obliquely, pulled out his toy cell phone and dialed furiously. “Hello, Daddy? I need you to bring me a coat. I’m cold. Ok. Bye.”
Max speaks in metaphors sometimes. Last year after trick-or-treating I asked him if he remembered what happened the year before on that day. His dark eyes gazed past my shoulder and he said, “That was the day the world split open and the snow came out and we were all cold.”
Tre, my willful firstborn, takes things much more directly. As we gathered at the table around the pumpkins, he looked at me. Big, dark eyes. “What does this make you think about?” I asked. “Daddy,” he replied. Chin wobble. “I remember doing this with Daddy.” He patted his pumpkin, regaining control of that wobbly chin. “I miss him.”
But here’s the cool part. We all took a deep breath and turned our attention to the pumpkins. We scooped out slime and created art in the medium of pumpkin. We laughed and Mom came home and helped. We lit the candles and set the jack-o-lanterns on the icy porch and admired them as long as we could stand to, in the cold in our stocking feet.
Those boys were happy when they went to bed tonight. They were a little tender around the heart, but ok.
And life goes on.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
  All I wanted to do was go to the bathroom. Just a moment to myself to…well, go to the bathroom. The door had no more closed behind me than I heard the thunder of a chase. Tre was in hot pursuit of Max, who was screaming through the house, trying to escape. I sat quietly, hoping to not participate in this little adventure. But the boys have some sort of Mama-radar, and they homed in on me quickly. Soon the drumbeat of racing feet came down the hallway toward the bathroom door, and two boys burst in. “Base!” hollered Max, grabbing me by the arm. I’m always base. “No fair!” replied Tre. He never thinks it’s fair that I’m base…unless he’s the one clinging to my arm. I replied in the time-honored tradition of moms trying to pee throughout the ages. “OUT!” I shrieked, pointing an imperious finger at the door. “OUT OUT OUT! And CLOSE THE DOOR!” They slunk out, closed the door, and thundered away.
Deep breath in through the nose…but before I could blow out the cleansing breath, the door opened again. Raphael peeked a delighted head around the door. “Yoo goin’ pee?”
“Yes, honey. Close the door please.” He was more than happy too, and stepped in and carefully closed the door behind him. I had hoped he would be on the other side of it when it closed, but oh well. He trundled up to me happily, and proceeded to gather up a large fistful of toilet paper, all the while making small talk. Toddler style. “Yoo don’ gotta pen*s? Nooo, don’ gotta pen*s. Ah want some juice. Yoo go git me juice? Ok, Ah drink juice. Ah gotta pen*s.” He started trying to shove the wad of toilet paper in past my leg, pushing mightily. I told him no. He pitched a wee fit, flinging the toilet paper to the floor, but was distracted by discovering (for the millionth time) that I have a belly button TOO! He quickly moved to roto-rootering my belly button with one enthusiastic finger. “Ah gotta button. Yoo gotta button? Hi, Mama Button!” I redirected his attention by asking if he would like to flush for me. He trotted around to the other side of the toilet to do so, and I hastened through the rest of the procedure without help. Thank God. I got my pants fastened and hands washed before he was done flushing multiple times and singing out, “Yoo don’ go poop? No poop? Oh well. Bye-bye pee! Bye-bye!” As I opened the door and started to walk out, he jumped and raced in front of me. He wrestled the door from my grasp and pulled it closed on my foot. “Ah gib you primacy,” he told me soberly (meaning privacy). I sighed back at him, as Claire (our beautiful stupid cat) slipped past and glared at me for using her water bowl like that again. “Darlin’, I get a lot of things around here. Primacy just ain’t one of them.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2003
  Off-label use. The phrase actually refers to medications that are prescribed by doctors for reasons other than the ones they are FDA approved for. But to me it means that phenomenon of childhood, when a kid finds a fabulous use for a toy that the designers never intended.
When Tre was three, he had this plastic ring toss game. I don’t think he ever used it as a ring toss. He also never called it a ring toss. He called it a “Gak.” This is a literary reference from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, by Dr. Seuss. Look it up. Anyhow, he would often take the base of the Gak and fit the pieces together to make a long, narrow rectangle. The posts and rings were discarded and the resulting item was his guitar. He would hold it all wrong, both hands reaching up over the top of his guitar, and strum it enthusiastically. And sing loudly. And gyrate. He loved his guitar, and we loved him playing his guitar. Ring toss games are stupid and lame, but that guitar rocked.
Today Raphael was playing with a plastic bone. It went with this incredibly stupid toy, a battery powered dog that was supposed to pick up the bone in its mouth. Never worked right. I don’t know why I never threw away the bone. The dog is long gone. I guess the bone was just the right size to sift down between toys to the bottom of the toy box, escaping notice during toy-pitching frenzies. Well, Raphael was carrying it around in his mouth this afternoon, being a dog. He was barking and panting, and drooling around this bone. “What ‘cha got there?” I asked. He spit it out and answered, “Iss mah tookle.”
I had to think about it for a minute. Then I put it together. A friend of mine has a daughter, who is just 12 days younger than Raphael. Poor Iona. She’s suffered mightily at the hands of Raphi. Anyhow, Iona uses a pacifier. And her family nickname is Tookle (all together now, awwwww). So now this bone has become a pacifier, and taken the nickname of the girl that pacifiers evoke to Raphael.
He chewed on his tookle all afternoon. I call that a fine off-label use.

Um…as an aside here, does anyone know why my email program is inserting “I’VE” in the place of “I” in all my outgoing emails? I’m somewhat baffled. Anyone? Anyone? Josh? I need to fix this because my emails sound like this:
Gosh, I’VE am such a doofus. I’VE can’t even construct a normal sentence. Maybe I’VE need help.
See? Bad.

Monday, October 27, 2003
  Last night I stayed up waaaaaay too late, finishing Bastard Out of Carolina. Ok, I don’t want to give away anything to anyone who is considering reading it, so I’ll try to be careful. Suffice to say it ended horribly. Brutally. The final scenes were so graphic and disturbing…this one’s gonna be with me for a while.
It’s not that I mind graphic, disturbing scenes in a novel. I dealt with the beginning of The Lovely Bones without too much trouble. But B.O.of C. I finished with a shudder. I threw it in the corner and pulled the cover over my head and tried to get those images out of my head. As a mother…and a daughter…
I had nightmares. Actual scenes-from-the-book nightmares. I woke up this morning with stinging eyes and a headache. And I still couldn’t get the flavor of that ending out of my mouth.
The boys had the day off from school. Fall break, so they lazed around and played with neighborhood kids. It was nice to be home, but not doing school, and I devoted my morning to cleaning up the spots the mouse had been. (I haven’t seen any sign of it, and I’m sure it’s long gone. Really. It is.) So I pulled pots and pans out of the cupboards and ran them through the dishwasher and sprayed down the insides of the cupboards with bleach water. I’m telling you, the little vermin really grossed me out, and I was taking no chances. I scrubbed and tidied and slowly my world came back into shape. But things weren’t really right until I went out to the garden and collected the very tail end of the tomato and jalapeño harvest. I filled up a colander with brilliantly red tomatoes and firm green commas of jalapeños. When I ran them under the spray of the kitchen sink, the water beaded up on their brightly colored skins and it looked like a gardening calendar. Max helped me make one more batch of blazingly hot salsa from the garden, and the world seemed right again.
I gotta stop reading so late at night.
Sunday, October 26, 2003
  We have a mouse. No, not a pet. A nasty, skittery, filthy tiny mouse that has made his home in MY kitchen cupboards. My mother likes to make unnecessary suggestions that there is probably actually an entire family of mice. She has some ridiculous notion in her head about how by the time you see evidence of a mouse, there are actually many mice already in residence.
I hate my mom.
No, that’s not true. But I do hate the mouse. The singular mouse that lives in my kitchen. Shudder. Just thinking about it, down there…pooping and shedding germs…anyone know the symptoms of hanta virus?
I’m also a touch irritated with our beautiful, stupid cat Claire. What the heck is she doing? Why does she think she’s on the payroll anyhow? She recently brought a dead mouse to the back door, and at the time I thought it was further evidence of her hunter prowess. Now I’m thinking she probably didn’t catch that mouse at all. It was probably living in our house, gorging itself on our food, and as it was doing a little mousy macarana in the middle of the kitchen, it dropped dead of a heart attack (all that indolent living, you know). Claire probably tripped over it.
Dad set a trap for the mouse. It was actually called “A Better Mousetrap.” Yeah. Better…FOR THE MOUSE! The Better Mousetrap sat on the floor until it was licked clean of peanut butter by a tiny little diseased tongue. The trap never actually snapped shut, you understand. Rather than functioning as a mouse TRAP it seemed to function as more of a mouse DINER. So Dad got another mousetrap. A classic style mouse trap. Don’t breathe too hard in the direction of this mousetrap, because it will snap shut with a startling leap into the air.
It was also licked clean. I’m beginning to understand how this ONE mouse can get around so much. It’s an evil, magic mouse.
So Dad hauled out the big guns. Mouse poison. It’s there now, under the sink.
Look, I have to protect the health of my family, ok? There are sanitation issues to think about! I can’t have mice…er…mouse in my kitchen. Especially not an evil, magic mouse. I don’t feel guilty. Not one bit!
Damn mouse.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
  I had a conversation today with a friend about pregnancy. No, neither of us is pregnant. She’s…fixed, and as for me…well, I don’t think God does immaculate after the fact conceptions.
We were talking about the real symptoms of early pregnancy. Not the standard ones, like nausea or tiredness. The symptoms that are unique to each mother. For instance, I know one woman who could always tell she was pregnant because the smell of hairspray was suddenly revolting. She told me a story about this time she was standing in an elevator with her toddler daughter, and the woman standing in front of her must have just applied some hairspray, because the stench was overwhelming. She stood there, gripping her daughter’s hand, with these vivid fantasies going through her mind of smacking this woman in the back of the head with her diaper bag. “Oh yeah,” she added, “angry mood swings too. That’s a sure sign of pregnancy for me.” Um…she has only two children.
For me, the surefire symptom of pregnancy was always stupidity. When I was very early in my pregnancy with Tre, I remember this moment I had one morning after I got out of the shower. I stood in front of the mirror, comb in hand, trying to remember which side I parted my hair on. I puzzled there for a good five minutes. Finally I went to find a picture, because I just couldn’t figure it out. That didn’t really help me, because I kept holding the picture up next to me, looking at it in the mirror, and trying to figure out if the image was backwards or not. I don’t remember what I finally did. Since I was pregnant, my solution was probably to take a nap.
When I was newly pregnant with Max I spent about 20 minutes one morning trying to get Tre’s shoes on his feet, only to realize later, after I’d given up, that there were socks balled up inside the toes of the shoes.
But my all time best newly pregnant stupid story is from when Raphael was just sprouting. I was trying to change the toilet paper roll, and for some reason both Tre (then 5) and Max (then 2) were with me in the bathroom. Tre was watching me patiently as I struggled to get the new roll on the spindle. It just would not go on, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. I peered inside the new roll to see if there was something in there, in the way. Nothing. I went back to vainly trying to push the new roll onto the spindle. For some reason it just didn’t fit. Finally Tre piped up, “Mama? When you’re…done, can I have that cardboard tube?”
I had failed to remove the tube from the old roll of toilet paper. I looked at that, and I must have still had a few brain cells floating around, because I knew. I looked up and met my own eyes in the mirror, and said, “You’re pregnant, ya moron.”
Couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
  I’m beginning to see a glimmer of hope that Raphael may not grow up to be a serial killer. We went to lunch today with some friends and their kids. All together there were…I think about a million children. Do you know, I think Raphael only hit maybe TWO kids! AND one of those kids hit him first. The mother of the offending child apologized to me, mortified, when her son smacked Raphi in the face. But I was all smiles as I hauled my furious wee toddler away. “That’s ok,” I told her, “it happens.” But mostly I was just thrilled not to be the mom apologizing.
Raphael has been such a hitter. It’s not that he’s an angry or violent kid; he just deals with most situations by hitting. Or biting. So if a child pushes him on the playground (intentionally or not), he hits. If a kid yells and startles him, he hits. If a sweet little girl with a protective mother hovering nearby happens to have a toy he wants, he hits. And heaven help the child who actually does something TO Raphael. Let someone shove him or hit him or grab something of his, and he responds by hitting and biting and screaming until car alarms go off. He just doesn’t have much in the way of coping mechanisms.
So I’ve spent the last year of my life sitting sweet Raphael down in some time out or another. I’ve had to pin his little hands under mine as I strolled the aisles in the grocery store. He’s been put in his crib, sat on the stairs, sat on the couch. You name a spot in Denver; Raphael has done some time there. Often, as I was trotting him off to his solitary confinement, he would be chirping sweetly at me, “But Ah’m bein’ sowwy! Ah am!”
“I’m glad you’re being sorry,” I’d sigh. “But you. can’t. hit.” I don’t know how many times I’ve informed him of the astonishing late breaking news that it’s NOT OK TO HIT PEOPLE. “But why?” he responds, all innocence and wonder.
“Because it hurts. It’s not ok to hurt.”
“But why?”
“Because it’s not. You don’t like being hurt. Other people don’t want to be hurt either.”
“But why?”
“Because… I’ll put you in time out.”
But finally, the millions of messages seem to be sinking in. Tonight while he and Max were taking a bath, Max took away one of the tigers Raphael had been playing with. And Raphael DIDN’T hit him! He turned and yelled, “Hey! Dat’s my tiger! Gimme dat back!” Ok, he could have phrased that more nicely, but he did what I’ve been practically begging him to do. He used his words. The clouds parted and the angels sang.
And it’s not just the hitting issue. All these shards of social graces are beginning to appear. Offer him something to eat that doesn’t want and he’ll shake his head sadly, saying, “Oh no sank you. Nooo sank you.” I could do without the emphasis, but it’s so polite! He says please, although he usually uses it in an attempt to bludgeon me into agreeing with him. Our favorite Raphi quote around here currently comes from an interchange that went like this:
Raphi : Mama, can Ah hab [something I can’t remember]?
Me: No, honey.
R: Pweeez?
M: No.
M: What did I say?
R: Nope?
M: That’s right.
R: Don’t do dat say dat nope!

But hey, he didn’t hit me.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
  We’re in the middle of having our roof replaced. It’ll be done tomorrow, and I can’t tell you how relieved I’ll be. Not just because I won’t be living with the constant thumping and thwacking of the roof gnomes anymore. Or because the cicada-like whine of the air compressor won’t be startling me unexpectedly. I’ll be glad when the roof is done because we can finally stop talking about it.
It started a few months ago. Dad had determined that the roof needed replacing, and he mentioned it to the rest of us. We nodded and agreed, yes. If the roof needs replacing, by all means. Have at it. Call the people, have it done.
Except then he wanted to talk about the color of the shingles. The new roof should be a lighter color, he thought. That would make it collect less heat in the attic. Mom and I watched him, politely waiting for him to stop talking about shingles, for heaven’s sake. He went on for a while, outlining his plan for the color scheme of the roof. The roof, you understand. He was talking about shades of gray, and shingle materials. He was expecting input. We shrugged, and generally allowed as how we trusted his judgement in the matter.
Well, it didn’t end there. For months Dad went around, noticing roofs. Preferring this one to that one. Pointing them out as we drove places. One day he called me excitedly to the back yard. The neighbors behind us were replacing their roof, a process he had been watching with great interest, as you can imagine. He pointed excitedly to their new shingles and exclaimed, “Look at that color! Isn’t that great? I think I want just that look, the subtle mix of colors…but a lighter shade. What do you think?” I squinted at the roof, searching for the right answer. “Yeah, Dad. It’s great. You know what I like best about that roof? Umm...the way it’s…right there…at the TOP of the house. Yeah. We should definitely do that.” He looked at me, puzzled, and then went to find Mom to show her.
A few days later he asked me if we should go for the white flashing or the galvanized. I guessed galvanized, thinking, what the heck is flashing? Isn’t that some kind of crime? Galvanized must have been the right answer, because he nodded sagely and said that was what he was leaning towards.
After all the discussion, the project finally began. Men arrived and tore off the old roof, replacing it with tar paper, and then left for the weekend. This didn’t seem like a good idea to me, but I was assured it would be ok. It was, and the men came back today and started nailing the new shingles in place.
I gotta tell you, it looks great. The colors are perfect with our new paint (Dad recently spent a million Saturdays painting the house). I never really noticed a roof before, but I think ours is the prettiest. Way to go, Dad.

Monday, October 20, 2003
  I had my cousin’s kids for the day on Friday. Her son, Dakota, is 11, and her daughter, Myranda, is almost 8. My kids love them, they love my kids, and so it is a happy day around here when Melyssa (my cousin, their mom) has to be somewhere and leaves them with us.
Friday was just such a happy day. The weather was beautiful, spirits were high, and we were off to the zoo. Once we got there I realized my zoo membership had expired, so I got in line to renew. Raphael wandered around my legs, climbed up on my shoulders, tried to make a break for the parking lot more than once, and generally was a two year old about the whole waiting thing. The other kids sat down and waited with admirable patience. A mom in line behind me watched us for a while, noting the very many children around me. Finally she ventured a tentative, “Oh my. Are they all yours?”
“No, not all of them. Just around 60%,” I replied glibly. She pondered that a moment, probably working out the math. “What…what school do they go to?” She was wondering what these school aged kids were doing at the zoo at 11:20 on a school morning. “Actually,” I said confidently, “they’re homeschooled.
I’ve found, for the most part, that people don’t question you if you seem comfortable with your choices. It’s like when the boys were babies, and I sometimes nursed them in public. Oh, relax. I didn’t flash boob or anything. I was very discrete. But if a baby’s hungry and your milk is letting down…there are worse things you could do. If I sat there, miserably aware of every glance my direction, people noticed. Noticed me and my discomfort, and wished we would go away. But if I sat casually, smiling comfortably at people if they stared, they relaxed and left me alone. And if they did get upset, it was really their problem.
Well, people tend to react the same way when I mention homeschooling. When I first decided to not send Tre to public school, I answered people’s questions rather defensively. A simple “Isn’t Tre going to be in kindergarten in the fall?” was met with a tirade on homeschooling’s advantages and my qualifications and the problems with public schools. More than one person I set out to convince this way left the conversation with far more concerns about my choice than they would have had I not defended myself so heartily.
This is my third year homeschooling, and I’m fairly relaxed about it. I really don’t have any agenda about what anyone else should be doing with their kids. Really. Some of my best friends send their kids to public schools. I know where I’m headed, and I see how well it’s working for my boys. So when people ask, I nod and reply confidently, “Actually, they’re homeschooled.” End of discussion for most people. Or at least, end of argument. Discussion’s always interesting.
But on Friday at the zoo, my calm pronouncement didn’t ease this woman’s concerns. “Really? How OLD are they?” I explained the ages of my sons and their grade levels. She shook her head. “Hmm. Seems…like a difficult thing to do.”
“Well,” I replied, “the hard part is the research. Finding out what approach you want to take and finding the materials you need and getting everything organized. After that, it’s just your daily life.”
“I don’t know,” she was still shaking her head. Hadn’t she noticed my confidence? “Seems to me that’s something you could do up until about…third grade.” Um…I’d just told her that Tre’s in third grade, I thought. “After that, one person could never offer the breadth of what a classroom experience can.”
Well, my hackles were up. The way I saw it, she was informing me that I was a moron, and deluded in my belief that I could meet the educational needs of my children. I, who have spend hundreds of hours researching the subject of homeschooling, who have read and talked to and taken classes from more homeschooling experts than she could imagine, I who have actual experience homeschooling, couldn’t understand the ramifications of my decision like she could. Humph. I launched into my defense of my choices, and impassioned lecture on the merits of home education and my qualifications. That worked as well as ever, and by the time I was done she was outright glaring at me, convinced of my wrong-headedness.
“Well,” she sniffed, “I would just never think I could ever offer nearly as good an education as a school.”
“Well,” I sniffed right back, “if that’s what you think, you’re probably right.”
And yet again, I made someone's doubts much worse with my debate technique.
When will I learn to smile and nod and let things go?

Sunday, October 19, 2003
  Ok, I’m going to have to make this quick. The push to get Max sleeping in his own bed is going well. He only came to my room once last night. Pretty good, no? But having Max there in his room in the morning is causing Raphael to wake up far earlier than usual. Max always starts the day with a good twenty minutes or so of stretch and yawn. This is before he even opens his eyes. He rolls over, reaches arms up and legs down, and sighs at the simple joy of it. Then he goes back to sleep for another five minutes. Then another stretch…and so on. Well, I was used to it, but Raphi isn’t and he’s been jumping up at the first movement and announcing in a sleep- croaky voice, “Iss mornin’ time! Hey Mats! Iss mornin’ time! Git me out!” Max, always up for an early morning adventure, promptly hops out of bed and liberates Raphael from his crib.
So all that to say that my nights have been fractured and my mornings have been early, and I’m not firing on all cylinders.
Do you think it’s a bad thing that Max told me tonight he didn’t want to be called Max anymore? He wants to change his name to Luke, and wanted to know how to spell it. At first he said he wanted to be called Carl, but I think my look of horror steered him away. No offense if your kid’s name is Carl. It’s just not a name that fits Max. I mean, Carl. Where does he get this stuff? The other morning he was twirling around in the kitchen, doing his best to make my breakfast preparations impossible, and he announced dreamily, “Last night I dreamed I was in the land of Chicken-Bird.” Then he went on to tell the most outrageous tale of his dream of the land of Chicken-Bird. Somewhere between the horse that could fly and the magic cup that could pour out whatever you wanted, I looked at the sly smile on his face and realized something. He’s making most of this up.
Damn. The kid’s a writer. And he does fiction.
Well, at least he’s got a pen name already.

Thursday, October 16, 2003
  I’m sooooo tired. Stupid tired. Sit and stare tired. I’m tired.
See, I decided it’s time Max slept in his own bed. All night. A few years ago, Max went through an intense period of nightmares. Nightmares, night terrors, I don’t know what it was, but it was awful. He would thrash and yell and claw at the covers, and weep loudly. The only thing that helped was for me to hold him. I would wrap my arms tightly around him and whisper in his ear, “It’s ok, Mama’s here. You’re ok. Shhhhh.” He would calm down after a few minutes and go back to sleep. But then a few hours later he would be crying again. During the really horrible period he would have five or more nightmares a night.
At first I would go to his bed, pick him up, and sit with him in the rocking chair. But he was sharing a room with both of his brothers at the time, and I didn’t want to wake them up. Plus, I got so tired. As the nights wore on, I got more exhausted. Eventually I gave up and just carried him to my bed, so I could snooze between episodes.
This was when Max was three. Over the past two years these nightmares have slowly dwindled. And now he goes weeks without one. But for so long he was racing for my bed in the middle of the night, terrified, that now he’s used to it. About 1 a.m. or so he comes trotting into my room, clambers up, and snuggles down next to me.
Well, he’s five now. And he’s not having nearly so many nightmares. So I decided it’s time for him to get used to sleeping in his own bed. We talked about it, and he frowned at me mulishly. “I don’t WANT to sleep in my bed. I want to sleep in YOURS.” Yeah, kid, I thought, tell it to Freud. But what I said was lots of comforting and encouraging things about how much older and more capable he was becoming. How proud I was of the way he was growing up, and how I knew he could do this. He was still glaring at me, so I added the offer of a special treat once he had spent a whole week in his own bed. That was intriguing, so he cautiously agreed.
Last night I walked that boy back to his bed so many times, I don’t think I need any exercise for a week.
I kept count, and I’m pretty sure he tried to climb in my bed seven trillion and four times. Really.
But he didn’t get upset, and when he woke up this morning (at an entirely ungodly hour), he was actually quite pleased with himself.
As I was tucking him in tonight he smiled smugly at me and said, “You’re so proud of me, aren’t you?”
You betcha, baby.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
  This morning Tre and Max and I were sitting at the table, doing school. Raphael played contentedly in the sunroom behind me. He wandered among the toy detritus, chattering quietly to himself, “Ah see stwaberry. Ah don’ like stwaberry. Nooo. Don’ like stwaberry. Don’ eat ‘em.” I glanced at him over my shoulder. He was indeed looking at a picture of a strawberry. And indeed, he does not like them. What a sweet wee Shooperman.
I went back to my efforts with Max in the direction of phonics. Max. Darlin’ boy, he gets it, and he even enjoys the little reading work we do. But the meandering journey of attention from his own world to the page in front of him…this journey is making me old. Anyhow, after a few minutes of work with Max I heard Raphael saying something. I turned to see him ambling around the sun room, calling out, “Daddy! Daddy! Daaaaadddeeeeeyy!” I stared at him. Chills. Raphael has never spoken to his father. The last time he saw him, Raphael was eleven months old. He had two teeth, and drooled a lot. He couldn’t walk yet, and he was so baby-chubby he had dimples in the curve of his belly. He’s never called out for his father, as though he were there. He doesn’t know about this person who should be here, who isn’t.
Raphael caught sight of me. “Ah can’t found Daddy,” he stated. I nodded, wondering what to say. The truth is, this isn’t a trauma for him. Not yet. And no one knows how this loss will play out in his little heart. He’s got a lot of love, coming at him from all sides. He might be fine with the fact that some guy contributed half his genes and then split. That somewhere, out there, there is a man with a goofy set of ears identical to his own, and their lives never intersect. He might not agonize over it. Some people don’t. Some people do.
However he does deal with this, he doesn’t need my anxiety to add to his own. So I swallowed, and said as lightly as possible, “Nope. He doesn’t live with us.” He nodded, picked up a Buzz Lightyear action figure, and started flying it around the room.
I turned back to the table, where Max and Tre were sitting motionless. Mention their dad and their hearts go on point. I wanted pull them on my lap, mother them up one side and down the other. Kisses and hugs and gentle words. I think they get sick of that sometimes. So I squeezed their hands and we went on with the day.
It sucks, not being able to patch up this wound. They’re so much better that they were, but it’s slow. And as a mom, I want to have fixed it by now. Instead, I realize Raphael is just growing into his pain. All I can do, ultimately, is love them and let them find their own way through this.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
  I live with my parents. Have I mentioned that? Yes, after the spectacularly horrible demise of my marriage, the boys and I packed up and moved in with my folks. Actually, Mom and Dad had been living in an 850 square foot house. Charming, but a bit cozy for all of us. So they bought a new house, one that would fit all of us, and we set up housekeeping.
When I told people about it at the time, I didn’t really think too much about their reactions. I had other things on my mind, and it seemed like the obvious solution. But over time I became aware of a certain level of discomfort, both in myself and others. I would start to tell someone, “We’ve moved in with my parents,” and pause. Wonder for a moment if there was any way to present that information without sounding like a 32-year-old sponge. Or I would be explaining my living situation and someone would remark, “That’s great, that you have that until you get on your feet.” I would think, wait. Do you mean I have to move out? Soon?
We’ve been here for over a year and a half, and life has settled into some very nice grooves. Once, when we’d been living together for about six months or so, I remember watching an exchange between Mom and Max. Mom and Dad’s room is in the basement, and she had just come up the stairs into the kitchen. As soon as she got to the top of the stairs, she realized she had forgotten something down in her room. Unfortunately, Mom had a torn tendon in her foot, and was wearing a big black orthopedic boot. This made stair climbing a chore, not to mention painful. She called Max over, and asked him to go downstairs and get the forgotten object. Max has strong, healthy legs and plenty of energy, so that was a fine solution.
Except Max was a little afraid of going into the basement by himself. So Mom stood at the top of the stairs, singing a goofy song that she made up as she went along. It was an enthusiastic tune, with more originality than…melodic quality. Mom has a gift. I mean that sincerely. She will sing the oddest songs of her own inventing to the boys without the slightest bit of embarrassment or hesitance. They love it.
And Max loved it, on his trek into the lonely wilds of the basement. He soon came thundering back up the stairs, forgotten object in hand. As I watched this moment in our lives, it occurred to me that this is why we all live here together. It’s this kind of community that is the goal of the lot of us, shoved in under one roof. Our assortment of weaknesses fit in well next to our varied strengths. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
This is where my boys and I need to be, and even where my parents feel they need to be. I’m on my feet, and I’m standing in the right place for us.

Monday, October 13, 2003
  I fixed it!! And now, that I have painfully journeyed through the land of AOL and ISP repair, I have here for your edification, Kira’s guide to computer program repair.
Step 1 – You are assaulted with a problem. Annoying error box pops up and will not stop interfering. Stare, motionless, at annoying error box for 7.4 seconds. Shut down computer and walk away, humming a little tune to yourself. This is also known as the “denial” phase of computer repair.
Step 2 – Become desperate to return to normal online activities. Boot up computer, get the same identical annoying error box. Swear (quietly so as not to increase rotten 2 year old’s vocabulary). Restart computer. Curse the ancestry of whoever invented computers. Restart computer. Throw things. This is the “anger” phase.
Step 3 – Try totally unrelated activities on your computer, in the hopes that these will magically fix whatever has gone wrong. Defragment. Dust monitor screen. Whisper sweet words in the general direction of your hard drive. Erase old files. This would be the “bargaining” phase. Don’t let your kids see this. It’s just too pitiful.
Step 4 – Tell yourself you don’t NEED the computer. Shut it down and sit down with a notebook to write. Stare at the paper as it slowly dawns on you that it’s been weeks since you composed anything on paper. Cry. This is the “depression” phase. It should be treated with food and/or massages.
Step 5 – Resign yourself to the losses you face to make everything better. Accept that the files lost will be worth it in the long run, and forge ahead with returning to your beloved ISP. Yes, this is “acceptance.”
Step 6 – This is the good one, the only one that makes this process anything other than grieving. Flail away wildly, deleting and moving files. Use weird backup wizards and install shields. End up (having no IDEA what you’ve actually done) with everything magically restored. Everything. Thank God and Bill Gates and gingerly step away from the computer. This is the “happy ending” phase.
There you go, Kira’s repair plan, free of charge.
And almost worth it.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
  I can’t promise much of a blog today, because my ISP seems to be broken. I don’t know what happened. It was fine yesterday. Then I actually turned the computer off and left it alone for some stunning number of hours in a row – like, 20 hours ALL IN A ROW. Served consecutively, you understand.
Anyhow, this afternoon I finally relented and allowed myself to go ahead and boot up my little Dell dominatrix (well, she can make me cry and beg for mercy…but I love her). I sat there happily, with a mug of tea in one hand, and tried to log on to the internet. No deal. I guess the ISP’s ok, but my program accessing my ISP – busted.
I even signed up for my 6 months of AOL (I’m sorry, Teri, I know it’s small minded of me, but OOOHHHH, the loathing), so I could download a new program. Downloaded, installed, still busted.
I’m just so very sad. I don’t know what to do next. Have I mentioned my amazing prowess with all things computer-y? I tried restarting. Um…twice. Still didn’t work, even the second time. Ok, or the third. I guess I have to scrap the program entirely, erase it and pretend not to miss it, and then download it again, hoping the computer doesn’t smell my desperation. I’ll lose all my bookmarks and all those emails I couldn’t bring myself to delete…
Ok, clearly this is my problem, not yours. I’ll stop torturing you with it. Let me leave you with a few quotes from the boys to brighten your day/round out your encounter with drivel, depending on your viewpoint.
Yesterday I was hauling Raphael out of his car seat, and he was peering over my shoulder at a tree. The leaves had turned a brilliant, glowing yellow, and he was amazed. But although this isn’t the first autumn he’s experienced, it’s the first he’s talked about, and he didn’t know how to put what he was seeing into words. “Oh,” he sighed reaching for the tree, “oh…yummy plant.”
Tonight Max was taking a bath, and it was time to wash his hair. I was just about to rinse the suds out when he held up one imperious hand and shouted, “STOP!” I froze. “What, honey?” He turned his scrunched up face to me and pointed at his tightly shut eyes. “You have to be careful, because I don’t want any soap gliding down to my eyes.”
Ok, that may not seem like all that exceptional of a quote, but I love that he used the word “gliding.” That made my little writer’s heart go pitter-pat. Oh, the thrill of precise language!
Finally, Tre and Max were playing at the neighbor’s house this afternoon. Tre came running home to tell me they were going to another friend’s house. I said that was fine, and he turned to go. Halfway to the door he turned back and pointed a serious finger at me. “Now, remember, Mama. We won’t be at Kelsey’s house.” He spoke slowly and clearly, as one might to an idiot, “we’ll be at Craig James’.” I narrowed my eyes at him. “I think I can remember that, son.” He shook his head, “Mama, there’s no telling what you’ll remember.”
So, humbled by my son and saddened by my computer, I’m going to bed. If you know any program-healing chants, have at it. I’m stumped.
Thursday, October 09, 2003
  There’s a new show on TLC called Date Patrol. It goes like this: Someone requests an overhaul by the Date Patrol, who promises to “make the undateable, dateable.” This team observes the hopeless loser…um…person in need of some direction, on a “demo date.” Then they swing into action, helping them into the world of the dateable. The fashion consultant makes them wear clothes they hate and cut their hair. The communication expert helps them learn how to make conversation. The body language expert teaches them how to move, sit, stand, and make eye contact in an open, appealing way. By the end of the show this person is a whole new man/woman. And they’re irresistible to the opposite sex. Life is good, and the Date Patrol rides off into the sunset.
This bothers me. I don’t know, the people on the shows I’ve seen seem pretty happy at the end. They’re glowing with gratitude to the team that overhauled them, and they have full and promising social calendars. But I wonder. It just seems dishonest, on some level.
I used to be good at all that stuff. Oh, a decade or so ago, in my life before marriage. I was a flirt, truth be told. I remember once, when I was a college kid, hanging out with my roommate and friend through the ages, Kim. We were listening to the radio and decided we wanted to hear a certain song. I called the DJ to request it, and when he answered the phone I said “Hey, can you do me a favor?” He replied in his best smarmy DJ voice, “What flavor can I do ya?” And without missing a beat I returned, “Cinnamon…with the emphasis on SIN.”
Ok, on reflection that makes me sound fairly trashy. I wasn’t trashy – really. I was just messing with him. And I got my request played in record time. My point is that I was unafraid. Confident and interested in what the world might have to offer me. And all my nonverbal cues said as much.
Fast forward to today. Recently I was in a bookstore, without the kids for some reason. As I started to leave, a man stepped up to the door and held it open for me with a big smile. Mid-step I decided he must be holding the door for someone else, and started to move out of the way, toward the other door. But half a step into that I realize, no, you moron, he’s holding the door for you, and moved back toward him. But then I thought NO, what if you’re wrong…
So I did that stupid stammer step in front of this guy for what seemed like about a year, until I was thoroughly disgusted with myself. I squared my shoulders, glared at the floor, and marched past him, muttering, “Uh, thanks.”
Ok, did I look like an idiot? Well…yeah. And everything I said, non-verbally, screamed, “Don’t talk to me! I’m freaked out at the very prospect! Leave me alone!”
I’m sure the Date Patrol could help me. They could have coached me to look him right in the eyes and smile ever so slightly. They could have dressed me in flattering clothes, showing just the right amount of leg/cleavage/shoulder/back – whatever skin is deemed sexy this year. They could have prepped me with some light topics of conversation to get the communication going.
But it would have been a lie. In my head I would still be screaming, “Don’t talk to me! You scare me! Go away!”
I don’t think it’s a problem that I come across as undateable. When my marriage first broke up, I spent a lot of time just sitting and staring. There was this reality in my head, this fact that my marriage was over. And I had to come to believe it, to understand it. It was like there was this huge file, downloading from my head to my heart, and while that was happening many other functions were inaccessible.
I’m mostly past that now. But there are still a few bits of my heart that aren’t back on-line. I’m ok with that, even if it means I look like an idiot in Borders sometimes.
One day, eventually, a guy will smile and hold the door for me. I’ll smile back, and he’ll say hi.
God alone knows what I’ll say then.
But it’ll be good.
And it’ll be the truth.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
  Ok, Cub Scouts. Everyone sick of reading about Cub Scouts yet? Well, welcome to my world, baby! Today I took the boys to Mom’s office and then Dad’s office so Tre could hawk his Cub Scout greenery. (In case that isn’t clear, his pack is selling evergreen wreaths and garlands as a fund raiser. Nice stuff, actually.) It went well. Tre was so adorable in his little uniform, with all its many patches. Max wore a tie, because he wanted to help. And he did, by announcing whenever the opportunity came up, “I’m FIVE!” Everyone was very nice and encouraging. I want to say thanks to all of his many kind customers. Tre sold a bunch, and he’s got the selling fever now. He wants to sell more greenery than any Cub Scout EVER SOLD.
Me, I’m sick of it. Tonight I went to a pack leader’s meeting. Wait, you say! Kira, you’re not a pack leader, you say! You are right. What I am is gullible. And the Awards Coordinator. Actually, there already is an Awards Coordinator; I’m the backup A.C. until January, when I will be taking over. So when one of the pack leaders said, “Hey, why don’t you come to the pack leader’s meeting and get a feel for what you’ll be doing!” I said, “Oh, sure.”
I hate meetings.
I especially hate meetings I don’t really have any reason to be attending.
The agenda went something like this:

7:00 – start meeting, ask Kira to introduce herself.
7:01 – move to discussing things that have absolutely nothing to do with Kira or her fabled “Awards Coordinator” duties.
8:15 – wake Kira up, thank her for coming, and snicker that she fell for the whole “come to the pack leader’s meeting” gag as soon as she’s out the door.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they kept interrupting their meeting to say irritating things like “Kira, could you stop banging your head on the wall and whimpering?” or “Kira, you’re drooling on my shirt.” Finally, seven trillion years later, the meeting ended. (By the way, have I ever mentioned that I find hyperbole to be the MOST ANNOYING HABIT EVER?) I chatted for a few minutes, and made a dash for the car. As I drove home I contemplated my fate. Tre has already decided to make it all the way to Eagle Scout. That means I’m facing roughly ten more years of this stuff. Meetings like this one, with people who are so genuinely nice that I can’t even feel good about making fun of them in my blog.
Anyone want to buy some greenery?
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
  I’ve been a bit cranky today. I think it’s the @#$%@# Cub Scouts and their @#$%# patches. I’ve been sewing, you see, for about…one hundred and ninety seven years. My fingers hurt. *whine*
So anyhow, I’ve been…edgy. And I got into something of an email discussion over these stupid magnets. See, someone on an email list I’m on posted a link to a site that sells these, saying she had bought some of the “Boys are Stupid” ones for her daughter. Now, this woman has two daughters, one of whom is a very pretty teen. I understand having an attitude of guardedness in her situation. That doesn’t bother me at all. When my boys are teens I very well hope all the pretty girls they know have parents who keep an eye on them.
But. These sayings, which can be printed on magnets or t-shirts, are offensive. There are five pages of “boys are stinky” logos. I’m sorry, but would this be funny if they were saying things like “Girls are stupid. Throw rocks at them”?
Well, no. But it’s ok to say whatever you want to about boys. Sometime a few months ago I was in Costco with my boys (I can’t remember if I’ve already told you all this story. Sorry if I have). They were talking about the TV show Jimmy Neutron. Well, Max and Tre were. Raphael was throwing things out of the cart and giggling. Anyhow, they were commenting on something stupid Jimmy’s dad had said, and noticing the fact that he frequently says stupid things. “Well, guys,” I said, “I don’t know why, but dads on TV are often stupid. Are the real dads you know like that?” They shook their heads. “No,” I continued, “but for some reason the dads on TV are.” As we were having this conversation we passed a woman who was passing out samples. She overheard us and remarked, “Honey, it’s not just on TV.” I turned and looked at her, but she continued blithely, “They’re all like that.” I smiled my sweetest smile. “Well, I’m trying to teach my boys that that’s not their only option.” She looked at my three bright eyed little guys and SNORTED. “Good luck.”
The thing is, I think this attitude does as much disservice to women as to men. If men are all bozos, then when your daughter settles for a bozo, how can you argue? How can we protest when men treat women badly, if men are at their core bad?
I grew up with a mom who used to change all the “men of God” references in hymns to “people of God.” When I was the child she was protecting I pretty much rolled my eyes at her or looked at the floor and pretended I was elsewhere. But now, as the mother, I understand. I gotta say this.
I know three boys. They’re not stupid.

Sunday, October 05, 2003
  I went to my former in-law's house this weekend. To say it wears me out to go there is an understatement. Driving home I have to will my hands to continue gripping the steering wheel. It's not their fault. It's not even his fault. It just is.
When I married into that family I thought they were good hearted simple people. Salt of the earth. My ex mother in law and ex father in law are both immigrants from Mexico. The came from different areas and met here in Denver, where they married and had four boys.
After a few years I was sure they were terrible people. Forget salt of the earth, think minions of hell.
But the truth is they are neither. They aren't simply any one thing. And holding the many truths about them in my head, that's what wears me out.
They love my boys. That's true. To the best of their ability they love them. Even if they do call Tre by his father's name. He's never gone by that name, even when he was a newborn and I was thrilled with the ridiculous name we had saddled him with. He's always been called Tre.
It's that "to the best of their ability" thing. They don't love children like I think they should be loved. There was a little boy there, a ten year old who has developmental delays. There had been candy passed around and he had eaten his and wanted more. He had more, in his goody bag in the kitchen, but his mom was too busy to go get it for him. He was mad. "F*** you!" he shouted, at no one in particular. Everyone ignored him. You just don't dance on the needs of any child, not even one whose mother was beaten so badly when she was pregnant that he was born with shaken baby syndrome.

But they do love their children, in their own way. And they love my children. Abby, my ex mother in law, was feeding Raphael cake at one point. I stood to the side, watching her poke bits of cake in his mouth and croon to him in Spanish. She refuses to speak English to him. She was the same way with Tre and Max. When they were babies she chattered to them in Spanish and scolded their dad for not speaking more Spanish at home. Now her son has nothing to do with this child, her latest hope for the future of her family. So she sings to Raphael and whispers to him and wipes her tears on the sleeve of his t-shirt when she thinks I'm not looking. She hopes her fervent burst of language lessons once every two or three months will help him grow up Mexican.
I guess that's the thing for me. I don't really have to go over there. But they have their wounds from this divorce too, and I can't bring myself to add to them. So I go and try to relate to them in all their complexity. It will never be an easy relationship. We'll never just agree on most things.
Have I ever mentioned the fact that divorce isn't freedom? Oh yeah. Well, it's not.
Saturday, October 04, 2003
  Someone here in my house is nuts. It’s either them or me. I’m really not sure anymore. Let me describe my breakfast and let you decide.
Dad had just gotten back with the bagels, so we all swarmed to the table. It was a frenzy of activity, with plates being passed around, glasses being filled with milk, and the right bagel being found for everyone. Finally everyone sat down, and Raphael grabbed my milk. It sloshed on the table and he cried, “Oh noooo, Shooperman did it!” Ok, fine. Mom grabbed a paper towel and we cleaned that up, just in time for a wasp to fall to the table between Max and me. Dad reached out and smooshed it with his thumb, remarking, “See, Max, I told you it wasn’t a bee.” Um…ok.
Mom started shrieking with horror. Not over the wasp, but because Tre was carefully peeling the crust off his bagel. She considers that a crime against nature. Tre kept stripping the crust away, chuckling at Mom.
“I don’t like to get even a little bit of spit on my hand,” announced Max out of the blue. “I like to keep my hands all dry.” He rubbed them together gleefully, demonstrating his joy at dry hands.
“Oh, me too,” responded Mom. Those two…they have some sort of mind meld or something. I don’t understand it, but I’m not sure I want to.
Max, after having thoroughly poked at his bagel, decided he wanted to sit on my lap to eat it. That would have been fine, except it caused Raphael to suddenly and intensely desire to also sit in my lap. He leaned over and rubbed his wailing face against my arm, leaving a smear of cream-cheese spit. Soon they both were in my lap. Max companionably bounced his head off Raphael’s, singing, “Domy romy, domy romy, domy romy.” Finally I banished Max to his own chair, where he started playing a game with Tre.
“Tre, do you want a CD to eat?”
“A CD!”
”Like you play?”
“Yeah. That kind!”
”It tastes like winglini and clams,” Max promised enticingly.
“Linguini and clams! [This is Tre’s favorite food. Really.] Sure!”
Max tossed him a pretend winglini and clam CD. There was a great flurry of pretend CD flinging and eating. Soon it degenerated into a chorus of (I am not making this up), “Chicken Bocky, Chicken Bocky, Chicken Bocky!”
So I’m asking you. I know I’m not all that swift in the morning, but it’s them, right?

Thursday, October 02, 2003
  I’ve decided I want to lose a little weight. Not much, just about five pounds. I figure that’s not going to be difficult, right? After all, I’ve done quite a bit of reading on the subject. Armed with all the latest weight loss information, I dove in.
Morning dawned and after the fog in my head cleared I remembered the study I had read that said breakfast eaters lose more weight and keep it off longer. Very well, I will eat. But what? I studied the fridge for some time. Perhaps I’d been a bit optimistic about the fog having cleared. Finally I settled on cereal and milk. Haven’t I read something about cereal eaters having better nutrition than non cereal eaters? I wonder if they meant cereals like “Mud & Bugs”? Oh well, it’s probably just as good.
The breakfast of Mud & Bugs didn’t satisfy for all that long, so mid morning I started rummaging for a snack. I remembered that fat is no longer bad for you – in fact some fats are downright health food. Avocados fall into this category of good fat, so I had a bunch of chips with guacamole.
That held me until lunch time, when I was out running errands with the boys. We were all starving, so I stopped at a burger joint. I remembered that bacon cheeseburgers were allowed on Atkins, and haven’t people been having phenomenal success with Atkins? I ordered a double. With fries, because the ketchup has lycopene, right? Really good for you. I’ll never have prostate problems. Besides, fries and ketchup, that’s at least two servings of vegetables, right? Everyone knows dieters should eat lots of vegetables.
After lunch the boys wanted to go for ice cream. I almost said no, but then I remembered something I’d read about high levels of dietary calcium helping weight loss efforts. Well, that sounded good. Since I wanted to be sure to stay on top of that whole “lots of fruits and vegetables” thing I had a banana split. Brightly colored produce is supposed to be especially good for you, so I was sure to ask for an extra maraschino cherry.
That afternoon, while I was grocery shopping, I found this soda. It’s called Steap, and it’s made with green tea. I worried a bit that it may have too much sugar for me in my current health-conscious state, but then I remembered. Green tea enhances metabolism. I drank four.
I was going to work out after shopping, but I remembered reading that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to weigh more. I took a nap instead.
That evening, as I was planning dinner, I remembered something I’d heard about Conjugated Linolaic Acid. It’s an essential fatty acid, found in things like red meat and whole milk. Apparently people who took this as a supplement lost weight without even trying. Well, that makes whole milk a weight loss aid. And if whole milk is good, heavy whipping cream must be better. That sounds like a fine thing to add to my efforts, so we had fettuccini alfredo.
Now, after all this attention to detail, would you believe I seem to have gained weight?
And I was so careful.

  Ok, it’s late. Whoo, it’s late. We went to the circus tonight, and much fun was had by all. Raphael was a little freaked out when the lights first went down. He clung to me and whimpered, “S’ok, s’ok!” But that soon passed and he was sitting on my lap, enraptured. He had been excited about seeing the elephant. Maybe even TWO elephants. But as he sat there, at least six elephants came out and paraded past. He was beside himself. “Raphi,” I asked, “how many elephants are there?”
“More,” he breathed.
Of course the quiet attention didn’t last the whole show. By intermission he was climbing over the seats and stealing Max and Tre’s toys, and ready to go…elephant hunting or something.
Tre took in the whole experience in very typical Tre fashion. He sat bolt upright, staring. Cataloguing what was happening in his mind. I hate to think what ideas the whole thing has given him.
Max watched so intently. Once, when the main clown guy came out to do something bumbling again, Max leaned over to me. “Mama? Can I tell you a secret?” He pointed at the clown, “that guy’s the baddest guy in the whole circus.” I think he felt a little sorry for him, messing up all the time.
It was fun, but we got home late, and then I called my brother. Josh’s birthday is today. Um…today, when I’m writing this. October 1. He’s really old. I’m not saying HOW old, but he can run for president now. Josh should have his own blog. He’s really funny, and kind of offensive. I told him if he’d just get his own blog he’d develop a fabulous readership and sometimes make people cry. Not in the awwwww way, but in the I can’t believe he said that, what is wrong with him way. It would be lots of fun.
It occurs to me as I think about my brother, that this occasion would be as good as any to finally explain the name of my blog. See, when I was a kid Josh couldn’t say Kira. He called me Ki. It stuck. I, by the way, called him Sha.
So, because this name was given to me by my brother, my Sha, it transcends the difficulties I have with my many names. Like, I hate my surname because it’s my ex husband’s. Not that that makes it bad, but I used to be so proud to have his name. To have been taken into this family story that was so different from my own. I loved that we together were defining a new chapter in this family, under this shared name.
Well. Now it’s just something I’m stuck with, for the sake of the kids. Every time I write it I quietly hope that some day the boys and I can all change our names together. Not that pleasant.
But Ki. Ki is from before, from when nobody defined me but me. Given to me by my big brother, who was and is the most amazing person I could imagine. So it’s the name of the heart of me, and these are my words. Kiwords. (Like key words? Get it?)
And like I said, I think Josh needs his own blog. I don’t know what he’d call it, but I know it would be Sha-king. (hee, hee)
Love you, Sha. Happy birthday. Don’t run for president, ok?
My new baby. Ain't she cute?

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