Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Busy-ness

Memorial Day Weekend. No trips planned, no big gatherings. For us, it would be three whole days with Kiddo just around our usual world of errands and home. For me, it would be 4 days.

Well,  more like four and a half. On Thursday afternoon, when Ang dropped Kiddo off at 2:15, I was ready at the door but not quite ready in spirit. The goodbyes were easy, but once Kiddo was in the door, his coats were flung to the floor as well as his bag. "I need you to put your tote and coats up on their hooks now, please." Typical adult response. His less-typical kid response was to make that "uhhhnnnnhhh" sound we all love so well and then take a half-hearted not-really-even-reaching swipe at me. Then, he took another soft one and whacked my leg. Nope, not doing that.

"You may not hit me. I see that you aren't being safe with my body and that you need a break in your room. I'll check in on you in a bit."

I set the timer for five minutes and dove into the computer for a little mental escape. When it dinged, I noticed he was playing happily and figured that instead of going in, I'd give him some chill-out time. Ten minutes later he trotted out.

"Mama? Did the timer go ding?"

"Yep, it already did. (holding him) Why did you need to take a break?"

"Because I hit you."

Ah, good, we were halfway there.  "Right, and you are not to hit people. I don't hit you, I don't hit people because hitting hurts others. (Pause) What can you do the next time you are mad?"

He thinks for a moment: "I can hit the playdough."

"That's a good idea."

And we're back to getting things done. The computer is put away and I dive into a sinkful of dishes. Kiddo's getting his things hung up and then I see him trying to climb up on the woodbox, which is a very unsafe place for kids. On one side is a huge plate glass window, on another is a hard woodstove and metal fire tools and a gate around the whole thing. He looks at me to see if I'm watching. "Get down from there now." He gets down. and I tell him that I think he needs to take a break again, because he's doing things that aren't safe. This time he seems more upset about being sent to his room, and I decide that if we have four more days together, I don't want to start all of this time with his attention-getting behaviors escalating. This time, he comes back a little sadder.

"Hard time this afternoon, huh?" I give him a hug. I'm done being busy doing my stuff; now I need to give him some of my time, my busy-ness. "How about some watercolor painting?"

"I don't want to" he balks, starting to dig his heels in.
"Oh, well, I want to do it. I like watercolors." I begin to just model what I want us to move into; something relaxing and centering. I get the glass jars of paint out of the fridge and he tells me he wants to paint too. "Great. Will you be my helper?" He nods and I send him off to get himself a smock and a couple of plastic trays for us to work on. He carefully carries the little baby food jars of paint to the table and then we sit with our huge brushes, brushing water onto the paper, then one color and then another, watching them whirl slowly together. We do this for quite a long time; I bring out watercolor pencils to use on top of the wet paint. I draw flowers: two zinnias and a dandelion. He uses a 'caput mortem' purple-brown to draw loopy circles and roughs up the paper in one spot. Then I offer him a small saucer of kosher salt and he paints with the three colors he now has: reddish brick brown, a cadet-bluish brown and a golden graham cracker brown. He sprinkles salt on his colors. He is a pretzel maker, he tells me, making the pretzels. He "makes the pretzels" for probably 15 minutes before stopping. I've already finished my work and am back at the dishes, but there is a difference; he is happier.

We have a later snack and again, I'm back at the dishes, which are seeming to never get done. But Kiddo wants to play and asks me to stop what I'm doing. I do stop for a moment and get down low to him.

"I do need to get these dishes done so I'll have room to make dinner. And then, I would love to play with you. "

"But I don't know what to do." He looks so frustrated. "Well, let's just go take a look in your room and see if we can find a fun something-to-do while I'm finishing up. " We head in; his box of tubes peeks out from under the bed. "What if you used your tubes to build some pipes for some block houses?" I suggest.

"OKAY!" he yells happily. I put The Verlaines on the player and get to my work. An hour later, he has pipes running under a four-story house, made of unit blocks, wooden planes (flat pieces), two cardboard planes and a huge incorporation of our colored blocks as well. We have used every single piece of the unit blocks, all 84 of them. The wooden animals all stand sentry on the house which reminds me of an open-air prairie style of building. My job is just to set up the initial columns and pillars and to gently direct Kiddo so that they stay one on top of the other. Our work is so solid and true that the next day my three awesome nephews come to visit for the morning and their toys play on even the top stories of the house, but the thing never falls down. A HotWheels car drives around the second story and Lego Stormtrooper posts himself to watch out for too much fun, perhaps, and dolls and animals galore are placed everywhere possible. Marbles roll across it. It becomes a game to Kiddo to see how much he can stack on the thing.

Friday afternoon, after much clearing off of toys, it's time to disassemble. Kiddo's a little hesitant to knock it over, but after I show him which piece of cardboard to hold onto to push it down, his little boy inclinations kick in just fine and the whole masterpiece flies to the floor with a satisfying CRASH!

Saturday, too, found us creating to keep busy. In the morning, Kiddo wanted "a box for a house" and so down to the basement I went to oblige. The most reasonable box I could find might not work for what he was wanting, a house for himself. After he experimented for a while, he decided that the box would make a great house, just not for him. He wanted "windows on the top" (which was the bottom) and so some measuring was done. Before lunchtime, the box had large windows on top, one huge on at one end and a door and two windows on the other side. That afternoon we spent an hour or so gluing 'decorations' to the box of his choosing: precut construction paper 'mosaic' squares, dried leaves, triangles and sequins. A toilet-paper tube chimney juts out from the top. Truly an 'art house'.

Our day also found us at Mount Tabor park, taking a long walk from the middle reservoir up to the top loop. At first, Kiddo stopped to pick every dandelion puff and collected a bouquet of 'dinosaur necks' (the long spent stems of the dandelions). We made a 'fairy house' of flowers at the base of one tree, and then left an offering of dino necks at another. We spied someone else's altar made of bright flowers plucked from around the park. Our long walk didn't tire Kiddo out in the least, but the adults were a little bedraggled by the end of it. It still amazes me. Who else do I know who would hop down all those stairs from the very top to the road below, one jump at a time? Who else seems to think that even spent dandelions have some sort of value? Who else wants to grab chunks of dirt and touch everything?

The weekend was busy and good. Today, as we waited for his preschool doors to open, I got into a conversation with another parent and looked over to discover Kiddo on the ground, scooping out the dirt from the crack in the driveway with his fingers. His hands were filthy. Sigh. "The dirt needs to go back in the hole" I tell him, smiling, thinking 'this kid will find a way to get dirty no matter what'. "He's making a wormhole!" his sweet classmate tells me. Of course he is....

Friday, May 20, 2011

Everything Old is New Again...for Me

It's no secret amongst my friends that I've made good friends with my inner Little Old Lady and often let her lead me around by the arm. She's got good taste. All those Desert Rose dishes in the cupboard? The first cup and saucer were a gift from a friend, and my Little Old Lady jumped on that. They were so cute! So her! The  Django Rheinhart and Stefan Grappelli records, the jazz cds found in every stack? That's my Little Old Lady, happy as can be when they're playing. Dainty teapot, the vintage 20's glass martini shaker with sweet white cherry blossoms and matching small tumblers? Totally her style.

The more practical side of her, though, understands that technology has made a few improvements over the years. So, a Cuisinart sits solidly on the counter top and my laptop hangs out with the microwave. I think they might commiserate on how sometimes, the Younger Lady within is a little lazy and spends too much time here at the oilcloth-covered kitchen table on the computer. However, in other areas, technology has made but few improvements, and here I direct you to our newest kitchen additions: a toaster and blender.

Big deal, everyone has one of each, right? But I'll bet a lot of them suck. Ours did. Our last blender committed appliance suicide with panache: the gasket all of a sudden began to leak like crazy during a Smoothie Session and juice poured into the motor housing, which was all of a sudden sporting a crack. Frankly, I was thrilled because this was my indisputable evidence that a new blender was needed. Costco had a sale on one brand, so we did some research: the reviews weren't favorable; one person claimed he'd bought three of them and still wasn't satisfied. (Slow learner, eh?) Joe hit eBay and began warming the cockles of the Little Old Lady's heart by researching the vintage blenders. I wasn't interested in the popular beehive model: I wanted a workhorse, not counter candy. Enter our new-to-us Osterizer Cyclomatic Galaxie blender. This little chickie is a beast, with 700 watts and a glass carafe--it lives to work. This machine was made in the 60's and has a work ethic built in, I'm pretty sure. So much better than those slick, pretend-vintage pieces of junk that pretty up the place but need replacing a year or two later.

On the other side of the kitchen sits, patient and triumphant, Jeeves, our new toaster. He is a silver Sunbeam model from the 30's, something wonderful and refined. Drop the toast into the slot and it magically lowers and raises itself with dignity, hence the name*.  This fancy-pants technology comes with just a lighter/darker knob and no other frills, no desperate 'ding' at the end trying to grab your attention like our old brushed nickel Black and Decker toaster oven, which is now slated for an upcoming garage sale. While the rejected toaster oven shouts like an attention-starved child "Look at me! I made toast for you! It's burned on one side, again! DING!", Jeeves is sophisticated and serene. "Your toast, madam." And it is toasted to perfection. Little Old Lady smiles upon Jeeves with benevolence. Jeeves, you awesome toaster you.

Later today, I'll go back to being my ungrateful Younger Lady, cursing the idiots who can't seem to build a weed-eater friendly for short women and their tired backs. Not everyone who works in their yard is 5'5" or taller, y'know. Older is better, and like a peasant, I have a sharp sickle to help me. The work becomes methodical and slow, but it saves my plants from getting destroyed by an indiscriminate machine. In the meantime, the Little Old Lady is happy for the oldest of the old stuff as well as the newer stuff that does work. Like the Cuisinart. Or our 92' Honda, which gets better gas mileage than a Prius and only set us back two grand. It's a marriage in our house, the old and new. Some of that marriage will be eventually given away (The beta machine and the box of video cassettes?... adios, amigos!) Some will be hopefully adopted by new families, who will appreciate them. And some will stay right where they are until they die of old age and good use and take their well-deserved place in appliance heaven.  Blessings.

* "Jeeves" is one of the titualar characters from satirist PG Wodehouse's "Jeeves and Wooster" series. Jeeves is the composed, intelligent and incredibly competent valet to rapscallion scion Bertie Wooster, which should have been the name of the last troublesome toaster. In the 1990's, Masterpiece Theatre offered us a series based on the books, featuring the hilarious and  incomparable  team of Hugh Laurie and Steven Frye as Wooster and Jeeves, respectively.  Joe wasn't sure about naming the toaster Jeeves, but with the happy associations the name brings to me,  I got my way. He wanted to name the toaster Estelle, but I reminded him that he'd already bestowed that name to my funky paper lamp which is shaped like a lady from the 60's, with big hair and cat-eye glasses. Yep, we're kinda freaky like that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Hairy Business of Self-Acceptance

Americans. We like to think we are a nation of tolerance and diversity, but we've still got a long way to go, baby.

Last week on the Mamaworldforum, a mother posted in regard to her seven year old daughter, who  has always had thick, dark hair on her back. Apparently, a classmate had made a comment to the child about this--the mother didn't mention the tone of the comment, if it was an observation or teasing--but now the mother felt devastated and wondered if she should start using Nair on her little girl. Reading through the comments, which ranged from "WAX IT! That's what I'd do" (Which me wonder if this woman was a sadist) to "Leave it alone until your daughter asks for help, and then talk to a dermatologist", I felt terrible for this kid. Seven years old and already being told something about her is unacceptable. Excuse my french, but what a crock of shit.

I understand the parent's sensitivity, in wanting to protect her daughter from teasing. But what I simply don't understand is our willingness to conform in order to avoid the hurtful words of the mean and ignorant. Kids tease about everything under the sun. Even the "perfect" kids will find someone talking about them behind their backs: "Oh, she thinks she's so great, but she's really just a $#@*% . " Kids get teased for being overweight, being skinny, having curly hair, having big boobs, having no boobs, having a big butt, having big feet, a big head,  sticking-out-ears, the way they walk, any lisps or stutters, wearing glasses, wearing braces, being smart, being not-so-smart.... have I covered it all? Probably not. And thank goodness there are some parents out there who say "Honey, that kid who called you Big Butt? Screw him! You've got strong, powerful legs from biking and running, and having a little backside comes with that. What do they have? A bunch of insults which show that they don't understand how a body develops."

I wonder how many girls would have loved to hear their mothers say that instead of "Well, honey, you might want to stand up straighter/lose some weight/do something with your hair to draw their attention up and away from the 'problem area'."

I grew up in a a house where self-acceptance was an elusive treasure, always out of reach. In our house, you had to be society-standard perfect, and I was a short little dumpling who was curvy and sweet, but certainly by no means perfect. I was not skinny enough. I wasn't pretty enough, my hair had no pizazz. Contact lenses, perms and frosting my hair didn't really render an improvement, but it was considered 'making an effort' and I did the due diligence of trying to please. I sunburned too easily to ever have a healthy glow; my glow ranged from ghost-belly white to radiant lobster red, but never the lovely tan my sister and mother wore. Unwanted hair was attacked with a military-style single mindedness, and one of my sisters suffered for this. Nair burned her skin, left a rash; other depilatory options were explored until finally, shaving was the only reasonable option. What probably wouldn't have been a 'big deal' for long, if left alone, had become one. Shaving like this becomes a lifelong need. But I kept trudging on, making the effort despite resenting it.

I felt this way until an enlightening weekend several years ago, when I stayed at a beach house where one of the other guests happened to be a bearded woman.  Talking to this gal, I was so impressed with her sense of self and level of self-acceptance. She didn't need to shave her face because she wasn't looking for the approval of others. She was doing what she felt best for her own self, and having a chin that grew hair was just one--only one-- part of who she was as a whole person. She chose to keep company with people who could accept her for who she was, and I could see why. People who couldn't? There was never going to be any pleasing them anyway.

Fast forward to today. I've stopped shaving my legs and am happy to not be enslaved to the stubble and razor rash that used to make my life very uncomfortable. I don't miss the hours of time I used to spend in the shower trying to control the thick dark hair on my legs. When I actually calculated it, it ended up being somewhere around 36.5 hours a year. That's a lot of time I won't get back, so I've decided not to spend it there. I also figure that Gillette's gotten enough of my money in this lifetime, and it doesn't bother my husband, so everyone's happy.

There's a lot of lip-service paid to 'letting your freak flag fly', but there always seems to be that little whisper of "but not too much" that follows. We are a culture that seems much more comfortable with eccentric hairstyles, loads of tattoos and septum and face piercing than I would ever have thought to give us credit for twenty years ago, but I still see that we have our odd fetishes and proclivities about keeping ourselves and our children as homogeneous as possible. Underneath the skull tee shirts, baby mohawks, pink hair and temporary tattoos, we still want our kids to conform just enough, to fit in just enough. And as much as I dislike even saying this, chances are that our little picked-on kid has also said something unkind to a less-homogeneous-looking child themselves. If we don't teach our children how to accept themselves, if we don't show them that we think they are just fine for who they are, how are they going to learn the self-love that helps them appreciate and tolerate differences in others? What if, instead of Nair, the mothers of the hairy-backed daughters said "Hey, let me tell you about my grandmother. You have her beautiful eyes. She had a lot of hair on her body too. She came from a part of the world where women tend to grow more hair on their bodies than they do in other countries". In this way, our children could learn so much more about themselves. Sure, she still might one day want that hair removed, but really, when parents teach self-acceptance, our kids get so much more depth and appreciation for who they are as a whole person, for what makes them and where they came from, and an understanding of how the world is so full of people with remarkably different appearances. There's so much more for us to offer than just a correction in a bottle. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Strange Happenings and a Lazy Sunday

"Someone left the stroller out in the rain...."

Okay, I'm not really going to make you listen to that old song, MacArthur Park. Jimmy Webb, Richard Harris--even Donna Summer lamented losing the time involved in making that soggy cake and subsequent loss of the recipe. But it came to mind this morning when Joe went out to get the car and popped his head back in, with an utterly confused look on his face. Sometime during the night, someone had taken our old-school jogger stroller off our porch and left it in the middle of the driveway. It stands on the porch now, soaking wet.

Let me just say, now, that if you wondered why we used to be religious about locking up the jogger: this is why.

Strange happenings. We leave the porch light on? Kiddo wakes up at three, yelling up to us "Mama! Daddy! Time to get up! There is light outside!" Porch light off? Wet, soaked jogger. Who would do such a thing? I'm guessing someone who thought they needed it for something. But what?

It's been more than two weeks now since we've moved Kiddo downstairs to his new bed, and life is looking up. Most nights, I get to sleep the entire night through now. So the 'cranky' factor in the house has noticeably decreased. I've always been a need-my-eight-hours sort of person, long before I had kids. We are all enjoying the more well-rested me.

Still, things seem a little off the past couple days. Little things. I posted a sweet something about Kiddo on Wednesday, and commented on another mama blog: now the post and comment are both gone. (Sorry Robyn...your sleepovers sounded much better than mine at that age.) I'm not paranoid; I think it was either a Blogspot or computer error. But weird. Outdoors, Obi-Robin and his hen have lost all of their chicks to crows. Kiddo and I saw one of the raids on the nest, and it was the first time I'd been upset with a crow in a while-- I was even more upset than last year, when they stripped our cherry tree. (They were not to blame, though, the netting should have been on it. Human error.) Kiddo's been asking some questions about it; we watched the crow carry off one of the chicks, and the other flew down out of the nest at the time, to land in a big patch of bleeding heart. I checked later to see if the chick had moved on; it had. But as I worked in the backyard that evening, doing some hand-mowing around the peas with a sickle, the drama continued. Mama and Obi-Robin pipping and cheeping loudly at the crow... the chick and mother would fly off first, the crow chasing them, Obi-Robin trailing behind. Lots of fracas and then it was quiet.

The strangest thing,  though, is how lazy this Sunday has been. It was my morning to sleep in, and the raindrops on the roof were the best 'get back to sleep' aid going. Toodling downstairs at 8:15 with my pile of socks (always tossed to the floor after an hour in bed or so, then forgotten until the weekly Big Sock Roundup), I came down just in time for Joe to discover the stroller as they were heading out to Trader Joe's. Time to gaze out the window at the patch of bluebells, at the raspberries now so high they've blocked off any view of the rat and mouse holes at the base of the garage. (If I can't see them, they don't exist, right?) Time to check on the Mamaworldforum and see what everyone else in the world is getting their knickers in a twist about. We've had time to eat a lovely breakfast in relative peace, time for a conversation with my sweet sister Amanda, and time to make a horn for my little Kiddosaurus to wear. He told me at breakfast "I'm going to eat so much bread, I'll have a crust on my head". What he really  meant was 'crest', not 'crust', and once I figured out he was trying more to resemble a parasauralophus and not a loaf of pugliese, we were in gear. "I have that crust for protection." he tells me. "Mama, we're going to invite me cousins over today." Ah, yes, his "meat-eating cousins", as he quotes from Virginia Lee Burton's "Life Story".

So, soon, I'll finish my tea and ready myself to make hay, so to speak. There's housecleaning to do, a horn to adjust (I've just been told), soup to be made so that we can finish the aforementioned pugliese, about an hour of filing or so waiting on my desk upstairs and somewhere in my day, time for beer and a game of cribbage and a nice drink for me and my guy. This, for me, is a lazy Sunday. Glad it's raining, for some reason. Me? Glad it's raining? Now, isn't that strange?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Children's Birthday Parties: Oh, the Horror!

I've been reading Barbara  Ehrenreich's "Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America", her calling-out of the utterly unrealistic belief that our optimism and positive energy can save the day. Loving this book for it's refreshingly objective (not negative) approach to the times in which we fool ourselves into believing something is better than it realistically is, I can now say with no shame the following statement:

I really, really don't want to take my kid to your kid's birthday party.

It's nothing personal. I like your kid. Really, I do. It's my kid I'm concerned about.

We have recently been invited to a party at a place I have never, even for a heartbeat, wanted to go.* A place I would rather my son never knew about because he might want to go there again and I will have to be Evil Mom and say "no way in hell, honey" and he will think I'm a Big Party Pooper, and he will be right. My kid is the kid who needs to be within sight lines. He is four, and I've been wiping noses for too long to think that an unsupervised four year old is a good idea. I do not want to have to crawl through myriad tunnels made for lithe munchkins, not middle-aged women who had their kids too late in life and whose knees and back do not easily forgive. I believe my feelings on this are worth a little empathy. And I know that the people planning this party didn't decide to do it at this new kid-mecca because they were out to torment me, but because their kid does like this stuff, and it is their kid's birthday. I'm cool with that. But it is one (small) reason we will RSVP with regrets.

I am the Party Pooper Mom who kindly doesn't go to your kid's party, because I know I'm going to feel like an On the Clock Bundle of Nerves until it's over. Being a preschool teacher for so long, it's my nature to 'read the room', and I will be watching my kid, for sure. But I will also be watching everyone else's kids, in part because when I am in a room of kids, that is my brain's default setting. Twenty years of work is a lot to undo for one party. And also because there will be other parents not watching their kids. They will assume that all the parents of the party are "watching the kids", and so when I see a kid I don't know doing something questionable, I'm going to look around for their parent. When that child doesn't seem to have a parent (because no one is watching them), I will then be consumed with the dilemma, "do I correct what's happening, or wait until an injury occurs?", which will cause my stomach to knot up like macrame.  I will have to make some choice, and either might easily be the wrong one. I hate this sort of pressure. No fun.

However, the biggest reason I'm not taking my son to your kid's birthday party is this: Two hours of fun for Kiddo does not justify the four-plus hours of torment on my end. Kiddo can be pretty hard at birthdays; the last one he went to, he was playing fine, and then he was on the floor with another child, crying, a huge bruise forming by his eye by the time he got home. Inconsolable, my husband told me. (My aversion to these events is nothing new, thank goodness my husband is more socially daring than I am.) Kiddo gets so excited he has a hard time getting his feet on the ground and not acting totally goofy. And then, there's the sugar. Who am I to tell others "Please, in the name of all that is good and wonderful, do not serve my kid candy, cake and ice cream." when this is practically the American Standard? Maybe your child doesn't get totally freaked out on sugar, but mine does. I have seen this happen, and it is not pretty. My kid coming down off sugar is like your college girlfriend after making friends with a keg. You know, the one you didn't like to take to parties because without that beer in her hand, she was a sane human being, but one red party cup later and look out, here comes some loud-mouthed, attention-seeking trouble. That's my boy, right there, only preschool style, alternately climbing us and running around like a crazy person. It's all cute, until it isn't. And then we are left with a Quivering Mass that looks like my son, but is hard to recognize because he won't show his face. But he will wipe his nose on your shoulder, so that it gets in your hair.

So, when you invite my son to a party, know that I appreciate your remembering him. He'll come, someday. At some point, he's going to outgrow the freak-out that comes with all the novelty and excitement. His body will be more able to deal with the sugar, or we'll be more able to contain the fallout from the sweets and excitement. In the meantime, we'll be keeping these sorts of things as low-key as possible, knowing that there's plenty of time for him to enjoy Big Kid birthday parties.... when he's actually a bigger kid.

*All children's parties, unless hosted at the family home or a public park, are held at Places I Never Want to Go.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Just Two Days of Sunshine

To Whom It May Concern:

So, who do I have to make nice with to get two days of sunshine in a row?

Yes, it's me again. Another pesky Portlander, bothering you for a little bit of relief from the endless rain and clouds. I realize that perhaps Big Pharma has gotten to you first, paying you to hold off on the sunshine until the Winter 2010 Prozac quota has been met. I'm willing to play ball here and offer any (yes, any) service I can render in order to get two consecutive days of sunshine. That's morning-to-morning -to-evening sunshine,  or the offer is a no-go.

Thank you for your time, and for considering this trade. If you choose to accept, clear out the clouds and turn on Old Sol, please. You'll know where to find me: outside.

Now, make with the sun already!
Yours sincerely,
Overcast in Oregon

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

She Talks to Birds

"Hello there, little one." This, my comment to the wee bushtit perched in my neighbor's vine maple.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm kind of a bird geek. I love birds. Love love love them. Long before they were cool and "put a bird on it" meant sale-able.

Walking over to Movie Madness (yes, a shout out to my entertainment mecca, owned by the mercurial Michael Clark, who is lucky to have the great people behind the counter that he does-- one guy offered to buff out the dvds I rented today "if you have a few minutes". I love that place.),  I spied black-capped chickadees playing in a neglected apple tree, which had been allowed to grow sucker shoots and sprawl low everywhere in full, pale pink flowery bloom. Amazingly beautiful in it's untended state. Before that, I was caught by a gray bird nearly robin-sized, with a tapered needle beak. I consult the Audubon Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest (this book would be in every family's swag-bag when parents left the hospital with newborns, if I had my way.). Checking the measurements on the robins (10"), I then browse the pages for a matching image. Townsend's Solitaire fits the bill, at 9" but I'm surprised to see that this little guy is not quite the city bird. Wonder what he's doing here?

In the meantime, we have a song sparrow out back we've dubbed Sweetie Tweetie, and we were happy to feed the juncos until the rat and mice started getting bold and stealing out in daylight hours to eat seed. They've taken up residence under the garage, so some death is going to have to happen, sad to say.  We've already procured the rat trap. Rat and Mice are both cute, but I'm not unaware of the plague, so we'll be saying "adios" to them soon enough.  We've also been watching Obi-Robin  ("Obi" is short for "orange-breasted") and his hen having a heyday eating the worms and bugs out back. Obi-Robin catches them for his lady, who is sometimes busy on the nest, though we aren't sure if eggs are in there yet. Maybe she's just letting him do a little work while she ponders pushing those eggs out.

So, yeah, the BirdBrain in me is always busy, watching, interested. I'm thinking that maybe, one day, Kiddo will be interested too. But if he's not, that's okay. I'm happy making these small discoveries about those wonderful, colorful fliers in my neighborhood and beyond. And sometimes, yes, I'll say a few words to them too. I'm so thankful for the birds, bugs, squirrels and other critters in my environment.  Well, maybe not the raccoons and opossums I encounter at night-- their glowing eyes still make me think they might jump on my back if I turn around, so I walk away from them slowly, backward. Overall, though, even though mankind encroaches on the animals, I'm glad there are a few birds who are happy to stick around.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tonight, Bring me Phyllis and a G&T

This weekend at our house should be dubbed a very impressive word: Productive.

Last Sunday, just one week ago, Kiddo started sleeping on his own bed in his own room. And if you think Joe and I are seriously enjoying having our bedroom back to ourselves at night, you aren't mistaken. Actually, not for the reason you are probably thinking so I'll fill you in: we can watch movies in our own bed at night again. As we don't have a couch at present (blame preschool here), this is really, really nice. I'm thankful, too, that our progress with getting Kiddo to stay in bed and sleep on his own has been very encouraging. Sure, there will be some tough nights ahead, and for now, I'm just grateful.

I'm also tired. Yesterday, a crisis with a server required Joe to work an unplanned couple hours in IT Guy mode. Kiddo and I went down to Saturday Market and enjoyed the fountain; bought a piece of raindrop-shaped aqua-green glass for his bedroom window. It was great until the bucket drums kicked in. Then we met up with Joe for the old switcheroo: he took Kiddo out for more fountain adventures and I headed for the Holy Mecca of My Portland, The Central Library, and worked for part of the afternoon. One of those disappointing days when half the stuff they said was in at the this library was not in fact findable, but I still managed to hurt my shoulder with my tote bag stuffed with books. Afterward we raced to pick up birthday treats for a dear friend I was going out with that evening.  Today I had burned up my brain earlier figuring out the lesson plans and then realizing that Mother's Day was coming up and some things would need to be tweaked. Hours of garden work was done, and I borrowed Ang's daughter to come and play, keeping Kiddo busy. Lovely. We've done the week's shopping, folded three loads of laundry together as a family. This was really fun, actually, all of us sitting near on the rug, Kiddo folding the small terrycloth washcloths in his way, refusing to let anyone fold them. "This is my important job" he says. And so it was.

So I'm tired now, and instead of watching the plight of some on-the-brink animal on Nature, I'm going to enjoy the Simpsons, and then watch my dvd pick "Goodnight, We Love You: The Life and Legend of Phyllis Diller". Anyone who is dubbed the "world's worst housewife" qualifies as interesting to me. That's what I originally loved about Roseanne Barr, who always reminded me of Carol Channing's slightly sarcastic debunking of ads glorifying housework on the "Free to Be- You and Me" record, back in the day. Plus, I saw the last few minutes of it waiting on line at the video store a few years ago and was intrigued. So, a nice cold fizzy gin and tonic and I'm settling in for the evening, sprawled out on my own bed, in my own room, alone at last. Ah.... the weekend begins...

 a nice ps- I fell asleep 40 minutes into it. Interesting, but obviously, tiredness won out--which is always the danger of watching movies in bed. But Kiddo slept all night, and that's good good good!