Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Before getting all withered and grouchy

If I worked at the Secretary of State office (before time ravaged my good will toward man and all) I think I would keep little candies or stickers or something at my station. I would share them with the folks who came in on their birthday to renew their license/tabs. I know some would rail against procrastinating, but those are my people.

I spent 30 minutes yesterday at the Plainfield SOS office. It was smaller than the one I normally go to and grungier. But it was no less entertaining.

I did not have the paperwork they mailed me because I put it off long enough that it got lost, or Willa colored all over it, or Greta chewed it, or all of the above (which have, indeed happened to documents deemed important by others). So I watched with some envy as a woman stood at their self serve machine, tennatively punching the keys. When it spit out new tabs, she literally did a fist pump and shouted "YES!" as though she were at a slot machine.

I had a book. I read it while standing in the first line. Here, one stands in line for a number and to be told if you sit and wait or stand in another line. So, I read while the gentleman behind me stood on my heels reading over my shoulder and talking on his cell phone about the robot. "Broken! We need it looked at asap (he said those letters as though it was a word)." I got my number and waited. He got his number and sat 2 seats away from me, making more calls. "Is it the Toshiba? I've called Cal." He was put on hold. "Good book?" he asked. I glanced his way and nodded, "it is." I continued reading. "My wife likes to read," he said, "it's like her desert." I was wondering if he interrupts his wife's dessert time when he was taken off hold. My number was called, I paid for my new yellow plate sticker and went outside.

I hope his robot is fixed.

It's interesting to spend time with the random mix of humanity on ones birthday.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Blessings: counting them

This one. Lies on the floor and does not roll over. He pivots from his belly and gets around; toes where his head was only seconds ago. On Saturday, from a sturdy seated position, he lunged his mouth at my finger and I felt the little splinter of his first tooth on this lower gum. This morning he woke up laughing.

This one. Sat on the bench under the lilac with me yesterday after the rain. She was in her princess dress and fancy shoes. The bright pink popped against the grey skies and deepening green grass. She swung her feet under her and cradled, in her hands, a worm.

This one (the one who isn't bronze). Woke up when I got back into bed at 6 am. He rolled over and sighed, taking my hand in his. We both fell back to sleep while the neighborhood birds started their routines.

Greetings - electronic, phone and paper - have found their way to me today. I am so pleasantly and serenely... full. Today I am thirty-four years old. And it is a very, very happy birthday.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

For my GR peeps

Jim and I were discussing this in the car on the way to having 2 of his teeth removed.

I'm just glad they didn't send out press releases a week ago. The media only had a day and speculated all sorts of things. Did anyone else have dejavu of Suzanne Geha hyperventilating because she was so excited about the BIG development downtown? Remember last year's River Grand development on the public works land? Anyhow... some of the guesses were way cooler than what's actually happening. Or maybe the actual event will be a lot more exciting than it looks to be in print.

"We should do that!"
"We should put out a press release that an event will be coming in a year and that it will change the face of Grand Rapids forever. And wait to see what the media and public speculate. We'll choose the best idea and try to get financial backing..."

Pals, the conversation on the way home was even less amusing. Poor post sedation Jim asked me five times if I had met the doctor and if he said things went well. Patient is resting comfortably in bed now. I need to go make him some scrambled eggs.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Curious overlap, with lots of back story

I used to work at the SEED School in Washington, DC. I searched the blog here and it looks like I've never written about it. I went there after working at Habitat for Humanity. I was looking to work with kids. They were a public, charter, boarding school (not at all a typical boarding school) looking for someone who would be a house manager for incoming 7th grade girls. A house manager is someone who is with students while they're not in academic classrooms. Waking them up and ensuring they were showered, dressed in uniform and had their homework was my responsibility. After classes, I tutored them, monitored their computer activities, help work out the social snarls of being twelve, took them to dinner in the cafeteria, ensured they were in touch with home, hung out, and got them to sleep at a semi-reasonable hour. It was a pretty cool job. Except that the school was fairly isolated, we worked 6 days a week, 13 hour days, and there wasn't a lot of support from the school administration. Or the parents at home. It was trying, and when the founder of an organization in Baltimore called me to say the position I had applied for months ago was now open and she'd like to meet with me, I jumped on it.

I was only at the SEED School for 5 months. Leaving broke my heart. It hurt some of the girls. I made some real friends (as one does in the middle of a "battle"). It was this time of my life that drinking wine and roller skating in the parking lot on a Saturday night (when the kids weren't there) was really the only thing that made sense. I left DC and headed a little North for what turned out to be a disaster. That job that opened up? Was held by 8 other people in the past 3 years. Eight people who share a "whooooo.... she was kinda batty, eh?" story with me about our former boss.

Anyhow. That is all to say, I used to work at the SEED School.

I am a proud Americorps alum. I've written about that here.

Yesterday, a whole bunch of people for whom I would love to make grilled cheese sandwiches gathered at the SEED School to listen to and watch President Obama sign the SERVE act into law. Read Obama's speech here and then put on your work boots, pals. There's a lot to do.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Photos from visit to the Motherland

Oh boy, do I have the photos to post here.
Breaking it up into pieces, we'll start with a few from Easter weekend which included a birthday party for Willa and MaKenna.
First up, Benjamin and Henry, hanging out.

Over here, we have my dad and Willa:

Grandpa (Grandma pictures for another post) and Henry:

A second later, a crack could be heard; we did not eat those eggs:

Here are all the yahoos:

The littlest yahoos:

Willa either admiring her cousin or thinking about "one. million. dollars..."

MaKenna cracking Henry up:

It was a great visit. These cousins are going to keep us grown ups on our toes.

Monday, April 20, 2009

those wacky offspring

Henry does not like to be written about here. How do I know?

I write "Henry slept through the night and the village rejoiced" and the next night he's up every 90 minutes.

I write "Mr. perma-smile is a delight" and the next day he's the crankiest he's ever been.

The seas are disturbed under the good ship Henry James. I'm sure it's teeth. I can see the outline of most of his uppers right under his gums. It looks like he's going to get all of them. At any second now.

Given the pattern I described above, I just jinxed us into more days of teething purgatory.

Quick! Change the subject!
Willa was singing her name the other day. I've mentioned it before, but she sings it to the tune of "Skip to my Lou"
it normally ends, "...and that spells Willa."
She was singing in the bathtub, while I was hanging clothes. I heard her sing, "...and that spells trouble."

Friday, April 17, 2009

One day short of 6 months

Today Henry is the exact age Willa was when I started this blog (190 days old, to be exact).

I have written so much about Willa lately; the wacky things that comes out of her mouth astound me. Her personality is so vibrant, so capriciously the essence of 3...

Henry - at this time in his life - is steadily happy. He grows and learns every day, but so much of that is internal, difficult to detect and record. I have noticed him reacting to his sister: he laughs when she gets near him and he reaches for her. He does this with the dogs and his toys too, but not to the degree that Willa gets. Henry has started eating veggies and loves them. Carrots first and sweet potatoes and peas next. He eats them faster than I can spoon it. He is an efficient eater and, as a result, does not get too messy. He is not the greatest sleeper yet - we have a standing date on the couch at about 3am still. And then again at 5:30 (if he wants to stand me up like he did last night, I'd forgive him). But he gets what he wants (needs?) and is immediately content.

Someday he'll ask me what he was like as a baby. I can tell him that he was genuinely the happiest baby I have ever seen. He smiles with his whole body (happy kneecaps, shoulders, toes...). He flirts and gurgles and rocks with a huge gummy grin.

Henry has made the transition to family of four-hood easy. He is fun to be around, it is such an honor to be his parent.

Sleep and "All that Jazz"

I don't know if y'all are big musical watchers. It seems that in just about every one, there's a big scene where people begin to sing and dance with elation a la "I Want to Live in America" in West Side Story, or "We Got Annie" in the musical about that lovable redhead. Who does that?!

Me. Today. I am singing and dancing and jumping to click my heals today. No lightpole will go un-swung around by me today. Mr. Bluebird's on my shoulder and zip-a-dee-do-dah!

Pals, Henry slept through the night. Which means I slept through the night. *jazz hands*

He slept from 9 pm until 8 am. This is the first time he's slept more than 4 hours in a row. I'm not expecting him to start (know what? it's hard to type and whistle with joy at the same time) doing this all the time, but it's a habit I wouldn't mind him picking up.

Looking for some fun musical entertainment? Click here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Birds and Bees, the first conversation

"Henry's bagina is funny, mama."

Big breath in -

-and out.

"Henry does not have a vagina, Willa. Henry has a penis."
"A peeeeeeee-nis?!" [insane sugar-hyped laughter] "that's silly!"
"Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina."
"I have a bagina, mama. You too."
Then she listed every person she ever met, and guessed their gender anatomy with good accuracy. This took a good 20 minutes. I can't wait to hear a report from her teacher this afternoon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A conversation reported by Miss Whitney

Willa to Seth (Willa's school pal since she was 3 months old and he was 4 months): "I am three now."
Seth to Willa: "I'm three too, Willa!"
W -> S: "No you aren't. I'm three!"
S: "I'm three!"
back and forth for a minute
Miss Whitney: "Willa, Seth is 3, just like you."
Willa to Miss Whitney: "I don't want Seth to be 3."
Miss Whitney: "There are some things we just can't control. Seth is three."
Willa: "I can't control that Seth is 3. Sometimes I can't control my mom and dad at home either."

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Oh Willa,

Well you went ahead and got another year older on Monday. Three.

I woke up with the sun, and couldn't get back to sleep, I was so excited for you. We were all staying at home to celebrate and hang out. I went to the kitchen and made pancakes. I got a small bowl of fruit together for you. I put the fruit, a sippy cup of milk, and your special "3" shaped pancake on a tray and went upstairs. You were awake and reading books in bed.

"Is my birthday here?"

I laid in your bed with you while you ate your special breakfast. I told you about the morning of the day you were born. How you came in the middle of the night and in the morning, you and I danced in the hospital room, the light just right...

We came downstairs and started the day.

Which meant that daddy and Henry played for a little while before leaving mom and dad's room. You and I watched Sesame Street. Did you know I was talented enough to see Sesame Street from behind my eyelids? Hey, I was up at the crack of dawn making pancakes...

You opened a few presents in the afternoon:

We made a birthday crown:

We went to the zoo, where even this normally reclusive lady came out to wish you a happy birthday:

We went to the park where we walked and played:

We came home and played around:

Then we ate dinner, sang "happy birthday,"ate cake and ice cream. Later we opened and played with the rest of the presents.

Daddy gave you a bath, and I took you upstairs to read 3 stories from your new Harold and the Purple Crayon book.

It was a great way to celebrate the day you entered this world.
Happy third birthday, Willa bird.
Love always,

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hint of Christmas card letter...

Y'all are so nice. Thanks for the kind words of support in the comments after my bad, awful day post. I am like the Pointer Sisters with "a new attitude" today. They sang that one, right? Yes I did just reference the Pointer Sisters. See how totally not hip I am?

Some reports: house finches are trying to squat in our awning. We have had them reside there with bad results in the past, so despite my delight in the males prettiness, I'm rattling around in hopes of discouraging residence.

Henry... aw Henry... I hope everyone knows a baby like Henry. I'm not sure what we did to have the privilege of nurturing such a happy kid. I know I'm biased, but he seems to be loving life. He smiles, chortles, flirts, and flings himself - laughing - at whatever interests him.

I have shared that Willa is a little more girly than what would make sense, given her mom is somewhat anti-pink. Actually, I guess that would make a whole lot of sense... that goofy universe... This morning I pointed out a blue jay. "I want it to land on my finger," she said. Like, suddenly she's Snow White singing in the forest? Actually, she's never seen Snow White, but the thought of her making that connection amuses me. Have I shared here that she won't let us cut her hair because she wants it to drag on the floor? No more reading Rapunzel for her. Willa, our sweet, imaginative kiddo will turn 3 on Monday.

Jim has finished up his insane March and is plunging into his somewhat less insane April. He's back in Master's classes, which means full Thursdays for him. He's got the week off to destress. He's probably plotting to read a lot. I'm hoping to cajole him into getting the kitchen backsplash done.

I took a stroll around the house to take garden inventory this morning. Wild violets are blooming. Peonies are pushing red stalks up. I know we may get snow yet, but I'm liking this hint of Spring weather. Things are moving and stretching. I'm doing the same.

I had a fortune cookie last week. It read: a surprise announcement will free you. Isn't that a cool one?

Keep an eye out here, pals. I sense big doin's on the horizon.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

night and day

Last night she sat in the bathtub while I paged through a guitar songbook.
'"I want you to play ABCD, mama." I played it and we sang together.
"Play catch da moon."
"I don't know that one, Willa. Sorry."
Whines about "da moon" got louder and louder.
I played and sang "Happy Birthday" instead.
She started growling and then yelling. I watched closely to be sure her head wasn't spinning.

This morning while the family was hustling to get out the door, she dragged the mandolin (what she thinks of as her own guitar) over to the hallway where I sang to her last night. She opened the song book and started strumming and singing "Happy Birthday."
She looked at me and smiled.
"Willa, do you know whose birthday it would have been today?"
"I don't know."
"Great Grandma P's."
"Is someone singing to her?"
I hugged her, "you just did, sweetie."