23.5.07

5 months

It came, it went, I am finally commemorating it. When you turned 5 months there was a lot going on. Daddy was trying to start a new business and bidding on a contract at the same time. He also made himself a knife, two actually but the first became too brittle when he heat treated the steel, and it broke. HE's a much happier man when he's doing something creative that daddy of yours. He's a pretty spectacular guy you know. You lucked out.

Mommy was filling out immigration forms and going cross eyed trying to read the fine print and make sure that every thing was there by squinting at 30 odd pages of directions in what seem to be completely random order. And then I tried to get you a social security number but it's a little tricky when babies are born out of hospital so it might take me a while to chase down the extra records.

Your older sister is turning into a mother hen, clucking and guiding and taking care of her younger charges, teaching the little 1 and 2 year old girls she plays with how to put their shoes on and holding their hands when they venture toward the playground. She wants to hold you all the time now, and she is having a hard time understanding why she shouldn't try to touch your eyes. She's also taken to turning into wax and melting onto the floor with loud shrieks at the slightest provocation, especially when she is told no. It's a dreadful word, I'm sure that you will come to hate it as well some day becuase it usually reminds short people that they are not in charge and most often means that they will not be getting their way once it's uttered. OF course, this wax phenomenon also occurs at the sound of the gentler words such as wait, not now, and later, so be prepared for this.

Your big brother has been trying valiantly to stay dry at night, it's been two weeks and he's only been successful twice. We are both tired and slightly discouraged that waking him at night to go is not working, and the laundry is piling up and is stinky. We're trying a new approach this week that I hope will work better. I hope by the time it's your turn I will have figured out the best way to help with this because right now I feel as though am blundering my way through a dark room that goes on forever. He's well on the way to mastering adding, he plays the piano for you and makes up songs and has suddenly taken to inviting every child who lives near us over for dinner, or lunch, or to play, and it has been a long time since we didn't have a house full of kids playing through here and weren' t setting an extra place at dinner. YOu love all of the attention, YOu have a smile for everyone. UNless you're tired, then you yell at them all to get out of your house and leave you alone so you can have a nap.

Your Beema's uncle is dying right now. He has cancer all over his body and bad diabetes and it won't be long now, his legs have stopped working. He's gone home from the hospital and daddy and Beema are with him tonight arranging furniture and the new hospital bed so he is comfortable. He is a quiet man, gentle, shy, and thoughtful. He loves playing old songs on his piano. When he smiles he looks like a little boy with an exciting secet, even at his age. You met him once. You were 5 days old, I was tired. I wish I had known that was the last time I would see him, I don't remember saying goodbye.

Our friends from India are moving away this week. They love to hold you and keep you entertained, calling your name and playing with you all the time. You know their faces now and are usually happy to see them. We'll all miss them now that they are no longer close neighbors, and their daughter can't come to play every morning. Well, I won't miss that part actually, but I will miss them.

You are all that is good about babies. You are smiles and chuckles and excited but largely ineffectual limb flailing. You are stiffness and little hands that don't let go of hair or clothing; you cling to me now when I carry you. When I sing you look at me in absolute wonder your face alight with pleasure. You are bright eyes and chubby cheeks and toothless grins. You are cute little yoda ears that move when you smile. You are always trying to communicate with us, you never get tired of of our conversations that consist of eye contact and smiles, you stare back in adoration and I can't stop kissing you. You are all sensation, kisses at the back of your neck, searching with your mouth in response to cheek nuzzles, giggling when you are tickled, arching when you are excited or upset. You are so much fun to play with. I loose track of time playing with you. Our favorite game is when I trick you into kissing me by kissing your cheek so you'll turn and kiss my lips. You think it's hysterical, unless you're hungry, then you get angry. There is no way to truly capture the bounty of the moments I spend with you or the light that is in you.

All I can say is I love you, completely, wholeheartedly, and joyfully.

19.5.07

Dear Stacy and Clinton,

I need your help. You see, I grew up in Canada, and although we do have summer in Canada and it gets pretty warm, most of the year is mild or cold. I'm really good at dressing for cold weather. The problem is, I married a man who loves the heat. Loves it! Once the mercury rises above 85 F and stays there his whole mood improves, he enjoys the sensation of sweating while sitting still, he likes humid stick to your skin temperatures. Last year he moved us from my beloved Canada with it's pretty trees and cool breezes and cold mountain lakes to Southern California with it's palm trees, and Santa Ana, and dry desert. He talks of moving us to places hotter still, like Florida and Thailand. Oh and did I mention that he hates air conditioning, he will drive through the desert in July with the windows open. That's his idea of keeping things comfortable in 100 plus heat. My problem is that I really dislike the heat, and sweating at all, let alone while sitting still. In fact, sweat is the primary mental block I have to get past in order to exercise, I think, "I should exercise, but then I'll be all sweaty, I don't like being sweaty, but I don't like being fat, if I'm less fat I won't sweat as much, I guess I'll exercise."

Last summer I was pregnant, and it was hot, it was record breaking hot, it was miserable, hazy blacktop, thick still air that presses against your body and face and suffocates you and makes you feel like you are trapped hot. I spent most of the summer fantasizing about how I could leave the man that I love very dearly in order to move somewhere cooler to escape the trapped feeling that had me laying sobbing on my in-laws floor in the closet, body pressed into the not quite cool but not as hot as every where else floor. I spent as much time in the swimming pool as possible and dressed over my wet swimsuit to feel cooler, I was not a fashionable girl at all.

So here's the thing Stacy and Clinton, summer is here again, it's starting to get hot, and I don't want to be miserable again. I have gradually become aware that there is an art to dressing for the heat that I lack. I'm really good at dressing for cold where you can always put on another sweater, I'm not sure what to do when I get down to one layer of clothing and I'm still very uncomfortable because naked doesn't seem to be an option around here. I'm not a good candidate for tank tops or sundresses, I need to wear bras and nursing bras look especially frumpy sticking out under tank tops. I spend the whole summer looking disheveled and messy. Not a very attractive look I assure you and my husband generally prefers it if I look more classy than trashy.

Please Stacy and Clinton give me $5000 dollars and help me to shop for warm weather clothes that I can feel comfortable and look good in. I need you to teach me how to dress for the heat so that I don't some day snap and divorce my husband just because I can't live in the same climate as him or he gets tired of my dishevelled and sticky appearance and goes somewhere very hot without me. (I kid, for all those who worry when I kid like that.)

Sincerely,
Carrien

PS. Just in case you fail to be moved by my distress, I'm hoping that some of my blogging friends that live in warmer climes may have some advice as well.

15.5.07

Girl Gone Native





She was looking at pictures in a book about Native Americans. Then she disappeared into the bathroom for a while with some felt pens. Here's the result.

(I can't get it right side up.*&#$@!)

Fortunately they don't just kick you out for being stupid.

Well, I will have to file with immigration again. It will cost another $400 on top of the $1500 we have already spent on paperwork this year, and I have a week to fill out ALL of the forms and reassemble all of the required documents. But if I get this done it should work out all right, and no removal proceedings will begin. It's lousy timing, the GH is between jobs, we have a lot of other things to pay for this month, like our life insurance policies, so it really hurts to realize that I basically flushed almost a thousand dollars down the toilet from the last time I filed. But we will get through it, and after walking a good 20 miles, that he's still limping from, my husband came home and forgave me. To say that this week I am grateful that I'm married to him is and understatement. He is steadfast even when I disappoint. I can't really ask for anything more.

10.5.07

Because what I want to remember about today is this.

This evening I received a letter that caused a rock to form in the pit of my stomach, a knot in my throat and I am entertaining an almost lethal amount of guilt that is bouncing around my brain. My application for a green card has been denied, due to my error in returning paper work late. It's an error that I have several very good excuses for, but I don't know that the US gov't will be accepting them. In 30 days they will begin removal proceedings, meaning sending me packing back to Canada unless I can convince them to get the paperwork ball rolling again. I talk to an immigration lawyer tomorrow, the GH is on a long walk somewhere to blow off steam...but that's not what I want to remember from today.

I want to remember the Girl running around in an orange cotton tie-dyed dress with braids in her hair playing with her friends. I want to remember her swimming at the pool and then putting on the towel poncho I just made for her with a ducky hood from her favorite old ratty baby towel sewn in and sitting next to me on a deck chair in the sun.

I want to remember the boy as he generously shared his scooter with two other boys, and the look on his face as he wobbled around on his roller blades for the first time by himself. I want to remember how proud he that he wasn't falling down.

I want to remember the way two little boys rang our door bell during dinner and gave the girl a yellow flower that they picked from the bushes nearby, her first of probably many admirers. She took that little flower to bed. At 3 she understands how special this little gesture is. I want to remember her walking around with a yellow block in one hand and the flower in the other and pretending that she was painting with it.

I want to remember the joy and laughter and freedom that was in my children today however horribly it ended. I want to hold those images closest to me and let the rest drift away and remember that life goes on in spite of our mistakes.

3.5.07

Goat Death

So let's see. Last Sunday we celebrated the Genius Husband's birthday. He loves to cook and entertain and hold large parties so that's what we did for his birthday. Most of the guests have known him since he was a teenager, so it was a lot of fun, lots of kids and adults running around on his parent's property. Why did we hold the party there instead of at our teeny tiny apartment you ask, aside from the obvious? Well, we don't really have the space to keep live goats or to butcher them and roast them afterwards. The GH is decidedly not vegetarian, him likum roasted meat. UGGGH! So we bought a few young kids, the animal kind, cute little white things with little horn buds from a family who raise meat goats and took them back to his parents' place. The next morning he dug a hole out of sight of the goat pen. A little bit later, with all curious children and party guests assembled, including our own he carried the cute little white kid over to the hole. Straddling it's body with his legs he tilted his head back so the neck was exposed and grasping a horn to keep it from from moving he showed every one the vein he was going to cut. The goat sat quietly throughout all of this, completely unaware of it's imminent demise. A few seconds later the GH slipped a sharp knife into the kid's throat and it led out a surprised little bleat as dark red blood streamed into the hole. About 30 seconds later it was over. The goat was dead, it's head cut clean off and it's still warm body lay twitching on the ground. I felt a dull ache in the pit of my stomach for a minute or two and a lump in my throat as I watched but the moment passed and the food tasted good.

I bet you're wondering why we would do that. Well, there are several reasons. In terms of economics it was a good price for meat. The GH's family used to raise goats so it's not like it was a new thing to do. Goat meat is a very healthy choice for red meat. We did it while the kids were watching though for a different reason entirely.

When was the last time you saw something die, in real life? What about something bigger than the goldfish you had to flush or the spider you stepped on? When your dog was put down where you there when it happened or did they do it in a back room when you weren't watching? Have you ever been with someone when they died? Soem will have, but I suspect most will not. People in our culture are very insulated from death. We get our meat from a super market wrapped in celophane. We view the dead bodies of our loved ones after they have been made up and arranged so as to not really look dead only asleep. We watch hundreds of fake deaths a month on primetime television and in many of the popular movies. If you play video games someone dies every 5 seconds or so, usually at your hands. It is all removed, unreal, isolated from any actual viscera.

It was after reading The Buried Soul, a fascinating and disturbing book that the GH picked up while researching for his thesis that I came to understand this and see it as a problem. In it Tim Taylor uses the phrase "visceral insulation" to describe the way our society continues to remove itself further and further from any experience of mortality or death and how this skews our perception and thought. The GH used to say that it is important for us to be aware of mortality in order to have the proper perspective on our lives. All philosophy aside the fact remains that everything living dies at some point; people, animals, plants. I want my children to confront that information at an early age when it is just information, rather than running into it when their view of the world around them is more rigid and more likely to cause discomfort when it needs to be shifted. Right now, watching the goat die, concern etched all over their faces, they are not traumatized. They have been talked through it, they know meat comes from dead animals, they know that blood carries life and if you lose it all you will die. On this day they actually watched something die just as animals do every day by the thousands in slaughter houses around the country, out of sight and mind. They learned about their own bodies by examining the organs, they were confronted with the fragility of life and I hope that will keep them from being helpless in the face of loss or tragedy, though I hope it never comes to them, I know it will.

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