Friday, January 27, 2006

Five Years Ago Today at This Time, I Had My First Hit of Demerol

Yesterday I took the kiddo for a haircut. The first thing he said to the stylist: "Today I got my first growing cramps." He'd had a little pain in his leg; I'd told him it was sometimes called a growing pain, and his dad told him it was a cramp, so he blended the two and came up with "growing cramps." He told me, "I was pretty excited when I got that growing pain, you know." The little booger is getting excited about growing up, although on the way to his haircut, he asked me about teeth and we got on the topic of one's baby teeth falling out and one's adult teeth growing in. He was a little put off by this idea, so I had to explain that nobody loses all of his teeth at the same time, and it doesn't hurt. "When does it happen?" he asked apprehensively. I told him probably around age six, seven or eight, but it's a little different for each kid. "Eight sounds good," he decided. Then I played up the Tooth Fairy. I wonder if his dad will be into it.

A little girl getting her hair cut was crying her eyes out as she sat on her mother's lap. "I hear a crybaby," the kiddo said. Thanks to SpongeBob, he's been learning all sorts of words -- not all of them kind. I admonished him and explained that some kids are just afraid of getting their hair cut, but not him -- he's turning five! He went back to playing his Game Boy and squirming around.

This morning he discovered a "nightstand present." Basically I ripped off a friend's family tradition of leaving a small gift on the nightstand for the kids' birthdays. Last year I left a little music box in a clear case; when cranked, it plays "We're Off to See the Wizard." (I also left a cool Hotwheels car.) The kiddo loved it, and he still remembers it. This year's nightstand present was a SpongeBob sticker book and a chocolate bar -- two of his favorite things.

I love doing this type of thing -- Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, nightstand presents. He doesn't get that sort of magic at his dad's house, or at least not as much, although he certainly gets gifts. I guess I have fond memories of this sort of thing from my own childhood and want to pass that joy along to my son. (I still have a note that my dad helped me write to the Tooth Fairy, explaining that I really did lose my tooth, but had accidentally swallowed it.) I have no idea whether my son's dad's parents even did the Tooth Fairy thing. Hmm.

Anyway, my boy is five tomorrow. This feels like a milestone. I still hold him like a baby sometimes when we're joking around, and his long legs hang way over my arm like they're not even part of his body. He asks to be carried upstairs to bed sometimes, and I do it, even though he weighs about 46 pounds. He pats me on the head when we're on the floor and he's explaining how his video games work, and I imagine he'll be taller than I am someday. He goofs around in the car, telling me on the way to his haircut, "My birthday is tomorrow...(singing) tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow, you're only a daaay awaaay..." and cracks me up. He makes sure I watch when he dances to the theme from "Friends," and believes me when I tell him that "Sex & the City" is actually called "Saxophone City." He's a card, that kid.

I can't believe my baby is five.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Stating the Obvious

This morning, because of a behavior issue, I put one of my son's toys in "time out." Yes, depending on the situation, sometimes the kiddo goes into time out and sometimes a toy goes into time out, which means the toy is placed on top of the refrigerator for some period of time (as long as 24 hours, although usually much shorter than that). This time, the toy was in time out for one hour. Oh, you never heard such wailing and crying. The kiddo was mad! Then he was sad! Then he was mad again! I started to think he hated me. Nevertheless, I was adamant. I set a little timer and put it on the coffee table so the kiddo would know when he could have his toy back. Then a funny thing happened: The kiddo got into counting down the minutes, and at the end of the time out, he was all lovey (instead of resentful) toward me. In fact, the rest of the day was a lovefest. This has happened before (often when the kiddo returns from a long weekend at his dad's house and is cranky), but it never fails to blow my mind a little bit. I love it when this stuff works.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Tagged - FOUR

I've been tagged by Mary at Mary's Owlhaven!


- cashier at Jack in the Box (first job as a teenager)
- technical librarian at a major aerospace company
- managing editor and copyeditor for Web/print publication (when the Web was really taking off around 1995/1996)
- freelance writer/editor


- You've Got Mail *
- Maid in Manhattan *
- When Harry Met Sally *
- As Good As It Gets *

* What can I say? I'm a sap!


- suburbs of Chicago, Ill. (from birth to age 11)
- student housing at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif.
- my very own apartment near the Back Bay at Newport Beach, Calif.
- a broken-down, but quaint, little rental house with my son's dad in Laguna Beach


- Friends
- Judging Amy
- Will & Grace
- Medium


- Craigslist
- Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los Angeles Rescue
- a listserv of which I've been a member for about 10 years


- potato cheese soup at Marie Callender's
- avocados halved and eaten straight from the skins
- almost anything with garlic
- sushi


- San Francisco
- Chicago
- Italy
- anywhere my son is


- How to Be an American Housewife
- Finding My New Normal
- MFA Mama (who will probably be a while, as she's dealing with sick kids and stuff)
- YOU! ;-)

Seriously, if you would like to be tagged for this little game, please consider yourself tagged and write me a note in comments so I can be sure to visit your site, too!

Friday, January 20, 2006


My kiddo is at his dad's for the weekend (until Monday). I swear, every time the kiddo leaves I feel like the joy just left the house. Of course, my having awakened at 3:00 a.m. to work on a project for a client, and my subsequent nap this afternoon, may have something to do with my "off" mood. I know this. Although I seldom get to take a nap (unlike when my son was a baby and I would sleep with him at naptime), I usually don't wake up from a nap feeling refreshed. Instead, I feel disoriented, like the day has evaporated and I'm at loose ends. I feel less this way when there are other people in the house to wake up to, if that makes sense.

Heh. Maybe I should go back to sleep. I'll probably see all this differently in the morning anyway. Yes, that's definitely a good idea.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Everything is so peaceful here right now. The house is quiet, the sun has set and the kiddo is watching a DVD while I decide what to fix for dinner. A little while ago, we played and wrestled and laughed. Simple. By 8:00 he'll be in bed and I'll get more work done. I've gotten quite a bit of work this month. Wish there were a few more hours in the day, but today has been nice. Tomorrow the kiddo will go to his dad's for the weekend, and I'll do more work. Putting one foot in front of the other, thankful for the chance to do so.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Waltz in a Minor Key

I signed up to bring snacks to my son's class today, so on Monday I picked up a few things. However, I neglected to buy apple juice. This morning, determined to rectify my egregious oversight, I woke up early, gave the kiddo his breakfast, gave him a bath, gave myself a once-over, and we were out the door about fifteen minutes earlier than we'd ever been on our best day.

We successfully completed our mission, and despite my running my grocery store card (instead of my credit card) through the machine and causing a minor backup in the checkout line, and despite my making a wrong turn minutes later because my caffeine-deprived brain thought we were going to the mall, we managed to arrive at the kiddo's school with about four minutes to spare. I deposited the snacks in the kitchen area and helped my son onto a pair of Romper Stompers while hoping he wouldn't fall backward and crack his head on the brick fireplace behind him. (Yep, his class is in a community room that has a kitchen and a fireplace.)

Miss Debbie, the kiddo's teacher, checked out the snacks and thanked me from across the room. Then she moseyed over and said, "You know, the kiddo never eats anything at snacktime. Ever. But I thought maybe today, since you'd brought the snacks, maybe these are things he'll eat...?" It wasn't an accusation by any means; she seemed a bit concerned. I explained to her that the kiddo would likely eat the Cheeze-Its and apple juice, but would probably not like the graham crackers and string cheese, and that I'd explained to him that we had to try to get things that everyone, or at least most of the kids, would eat. I was kinda surprised to hear that the kiddo never eats at snacktime. Nonetheless, I told Miss Debbie that if the kiddo chose not to eat what was provided, that was fine with me. Maybe I'll tell her about our relatively new "try one new food each week" rule, which is currently going over like a fart in church.

Anyway, I kissed the kiddo, who'd already forgotten who I was, and headed out to the car. Bank. Caffeine. I used to have a friend who complained that the two and a half hours that her child was in preschool wasn't enough time for her to get anything done, but I haven't found that to be the case for me so far. Anyway, for some reason, the coffee place next to the bank was closed (it's family owned and operates on its own schedule), so I drove through a fast-food joint, figuring I could get bad food and bad coffee for the same price as a good cup of coffee elsewhere. Not wanting to go straight home and devour my bad food and bad coffee at my desk, I decided to continue up the street and make a U-turn so I could park in a spot overlooking the lake.

I left the engine running and turned on the air conditioning. Yes, I could've taken off my pleather jacket, but I was intent on my ongoing experiment to determine which combination of cream and sugar successfully masks the bitter, mineral taste of cheap coffee made with local tap water. (Results to date: inconclusive.) An elderly man with a Shih-Tzu walked by, and as I gazed at the lake, I wondered why the water level was so low. Really, it's the lowest I've seen in the two and a half years or so that I've been here. I suppose it's the lack of rain, although technically the lake is a reservoir attached to the water (secondary?) treatment plant, and I didn't think the rain was solely responsible for keeping up the water level. If the lack of rain is to blame, though, the area will look a lot different this summer when the weather really heats up and the water level drops even further.

I digress but, in my defense, digression was my intent this morning.

Across the street and down a bit was a bench I'd seen once before, with a child's picture nearby and some potted flowers among a stone garden. I'd wanted to get out of the car and read the plaque, but I knew it would break my heart. I watched a lean, muscular couple jog by with a Golden Retriever as I listed to a samba version of "Moon River" on the local college station.
The man with the Shih-Tzu was headed toward me, and I made a gentle point of raising my hand in greeting. He raised a hand in return -- a fleeting connection. I decided to check out the plaque, and pulled out of my spot.

Parking in front of the bench, I almost didn't get out of the car. Still, I figured if I was going to see the plaque at some point, I'd rather do it without my son. The little stone garden was full of white landscaping stones; a couple of low, white picket fences formed circles around areas where perhaps plants had been, or would be again. Rosebushes formed a backdrop for a small altar, on which had been placed a few candles in glass jars, some well-loved dolls and a framed photo of a beautiful, brown-eyed, four-year-old girl. A small, green tiara had been placed next to the photo. The gently curving bench bore a bronze plaque inscribed to Brianna, [paraphrasing] "the girl with shining brown eyes which capture the hearts of everyone in seconds, always friendly, always happy, who will be forever missed by her big brother, her mother and father, her friends, and everyone who knew her." I said a little prayer for the little girl and her family. Then, not wanting to weep on the side of the road, I got back into the car, where the radio was playing a waltz in a minor key, and sat for a minute.

I wondered what had happened to Brianna, but I knew it didn't matter. She was gone, and I could only imagine that her family's sorrow was a million times greater than any sadness I felt upon reading the plaque. I don't know what I would do if I lost my son, and I wondered if, by considering Brianna, I was tempting fate or instead somehow ensuring that the unspeakable would never happen. Funny how the mind tries to rationalize and pigeonhole experiences and thoughts that are weakly described at best.

On the way home, I turned my mind to the mundane: calls to return, clients to update, documents to edit, ads to post. I have work to do, but I need more work if I am to get ahead of my bills and save any money.

Still, my work does allow me to be home for my son, who will be finished with his class at 11:30. Last night he said he didn't like his class, but when I pick him up in a while, he'll smilingly tell me, "Mommy, I had a blast!" and he won't want to leave. I'll smooch him and smile back.

Then we'll return a video to the video store, go home, eat lunch and get back to the business of living.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

All in the Space of Twenty Minutes

"Ow! Ow! Mommy! Something is in my EYE! Ow!" (Wailing and crying commence.)

I check in his eye and don't see anything, but I take him to the bathroom and have him lean over the sink while I flush his eye with a little water. I take another look and figure it was a bit of fuzz or something; he decides he feels better and resumes playing video games.

Minutes later: "Ow! Ow! Mommy! (crying) My knee! I whacked it with the console because I was too excited! (more crying) Ow! This is terrible!"

I rub it and give him a hug while making appropriate sympathetic noises, determine everything is fine; he sniffles for a minute, then resumes playing video games.

"Hey, Mommy, could you please stop disturbing me now?"

And I'm back to work... ;^)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Commercial Kid

Just now, my son was playing video games and I asked him what he was playing. Without taking his eyes off the screen, he replied, "It's 'Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams,' a new video game in stores this October."

Clearly this kid is watching too much TV...or should be doing commercial voiceovers. ;^)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Green, Green Leaves

Well, we were planning to hit the farmer's market and do another errand, but the kiddo fell asleep at 5:00 p.m.; his normal bedtime is 8:00. He just conked out on the couch and I carried him up to bed. This has been known to happen on occasion, although infrequently. When there's still time left in the evening and things are slow like this, I find myself wishing I knew some people casually enough here to call them and ask them to drop by for a beer or just to hang out. I'm not complaining. I know it all takes time and our first two years here were tumultuous. Now that things are settling down, I think I can turn my attention outward again. Like leaf growth, as opposed to root growth. Or something.

For now, though, maybe I'll clean the kitchen...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

De-Lurk! (Pretty Please?)

Well, according to the Internet, this is National De-Lurking Week, so now's your chance. I'd really like to get to know you folks, and I know you're out there because I check my site meter from time to time. So drop me a comment, won't you? Maybe we can visit each other's sites and get to know each other a bit. Whaddya think? Are you feelin' the love yet? ;^)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Stuck Stick

Well, today's been fun so far. The kiddo swallowed a small lollipop stick when he was at the barbershop with his dad this morning. From what I could gather, he was playing his GameBoy and was distracted enough that when he felt something in his mouth, he automatically started to swallow it, and when his dad looked over at him, he noticed the kiddo has a strange look on his face and was coughing a bit. (I remembered Flea's hair-raising story about her son choking on a hard candy at the hair salon. Awful!) He verified that the kiddo was breathing and able to talk, scooped him up and shot over to the doctor's, possibly stopping at the hospital first (?) -- I wasn't sure.

Anyway, the kiddo will be fine (the four-inch stick is made of paper and you know what will happen to *that* in a day or two), but there's nothing like getting an unexpected call from the pediatrician's office on a peaceful Saturday morning. I met the kiddo and his dad for lunch so I could talk to the kiddo and snuggle him up. (He was bawling when I talked to him on the phone from the doctor's office.) The kiddo ate plenty of food and drank plenty, so his dad is just going to keep an eye on him and call me if anything changes. His dad is actually very good about this sort of stuff, and I know he'll be very watchful. Ah, the fun of having a wee one...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Summertime in January

Nothing all that earthshaking to report here; things are perfectly imperfect, as always. I worked all day yesterday on a client's dissertation, my son has departed for his dad's house, and this morning the TV is refusing to produce sound and won't display certain channels. This last thing wouldn't be a real issue, except that I would really like to kick back and watch a show that I taped after spending all yesterday glued to the computer. The TV issue has happened before, and the cable company told me it has to do with the VCR's accumulated magnetic particles or something that interfere with the cable signal. I'm supposed to get a cleaning cassette and run it through the VCR...or disconnect the VCR entirely. The last time this happened, I just switched to an old VCR that my folks had lying around and that solved the problem. Today, however, I will either watch my tape with the captions on (and no sound) or spend money on the cleaning cassette and take my chances. Or I'll just throw the VCR out the window.

Then it's back to work for me -- housework and otherwise. Later I'll take a walk outside and maybe even transplant a few growing things on the deck. You folks in snowy states may hate me for telling you it's a beautiful 84 degrees F here today. I'm so not kidding. Summertime in January.

Time to break out the shorts. ;^)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Long Way to Go

The other night, as my son and I chatted in the dark at bedtime, he told me, "Goodnight, pal."

"Goodnight, chum," I replied.

"What's 'chum'?" he asked. "Like the Chum Bucket on Spongebob?"

"Actually," I told him, "the word 'chum' can mean two things. It can mean a bunch of fish parts and stuff that people throw in the water to make sharks come closer, because sharks like to eat fish parts, or it can mean 'friend' or 'pal'."

He thought about this. "Then what does 'rookie' mean?"

"Well, 'rookie' means someone who's still new at doing something and who still has some things to learn," I said. "Baseball teams and the police department especially use the word 'rookie' a lot when they talk about someone who's just starting out and who still has to learn a few things."

He thought about this again. "And a rook is the castle-looking chess piece that sits on the edge of the board, right?"

"I think so, but you should probably ask Daddy about chess questions. Word questions I can handle."

He yawned. "Well, goodnight, chum."

"Goodnight, pal."

"Goodnight, ROOKIE," he said, giggling.

Oof. ;^)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Holding on Is Futile

I've been thinking about how to catch up here, and I've come to the conclusion that I probably won't be able to do so. Still, there's so much I want to much I want to capture, I guess.

My son says funny things a lot of the time, sometimes when we're in the car on the way to the grocery store, sometimes at bedtime, and I sometimes remember these things and tell members of my family, or blog them here. The other night when I told my brother about something the kiddo had said, he told me, "You should get a notebook and just keep it around so you can write these things down." Don't think the thought hasn't occurred to me. But who can really write everything down when there are noses and bums to wipe, meals to prepare, tears to dry, projects to do, grownup work to be done, etc.? You moms know what I'm talking about.

When I was childless and working in a job that I hated, I carried Post-It notes around with me so I could jot down all my profound thoughts. I accumulated a lot of fluttering yellow scraps of paper that all stuck to each other, and once in a while I wrote a poem. It was okay. When my son was born, I tried to carry a camera everywhere with me so I could document everything. Eventually I found that I was living through the camera instead of fully being in each experience. Do you know what I mean? Why do I want to capture everything, instead of just living it?

In the week before Christmas, I took my son to the Hotel del Coronado so we could see the gigantic Christmas tree in the lobby. We got a late start, as happens sometimes with us, and arrived on the island around 3:00 or so. Luckily we found an excellent parking spot in front of someone's house (free!), and it was a short walk to the hotel. On the way, we passed a Wendy's and I had the foresight to drag the kiddo inside although he said he wasn't hungry. I wasn't going to take chances on the kiddo's mood staying pleasant without the assistance of greasy fries, er, sustenance.

While we chomped on our fries and chicken strips, the kiddo noticed a very humble Christmas tree inside the restaurant. "Is that the tree you wanted me to see?" he asked. I told him it wasn't, but that it was a good example of how every Christmas tree is different. (Earlier we'd been discussing the difference between our own artificial tree and his dad's gigantic cut tree.) We wiped our hands, threw away our trash, and proceeded to the hotel.

The fog and mist were coming in and the sky was gray, but inside the beautiful lobby the tree glowed with hundreds of lights and sparkled with hundreds of sea-themed ornaments and shells. It was lovely. Several people had brought their cameras with them to photograph their children in front of the tree, presumably for Christmas cards. I had a disposable camera in my purse, which had one exposure left on it. My son dutifully stood in front of the tree (after we'd circled it and he'd asked if he could touch every single ornament -- I'd let him despite my better judgement) and began striking a series of oddball poses. "Just please stand still and smile nicely for the picture, honey," I begged. "I'll even give you five marbles for your marble (reward) jar." I waited, and when he finally smiled and stood still, I snapped the photo. I haven't had the film developed yet, so we shall see what we got.

We circled the tree again and the kiddo once more touched ornaments, ever so gently, as I'd instructed him. The tree reached the ceiling; it was grand, all right. Then we wandered around the lobby to see what else we could see. If you've never been to the Hotel del Coronado, you'll just have to imagine the polished wooden ceilings in the lobby, the overstuffed loveseats positioned next to decorated antique fireplaces, the flowers and whitewashed gazebo just outside the door, the feeling of having stepped back in time. I pointed out to the kiddo one of the lavishly decorated mantels, full of evergreen boughs and a mermaid figure. My son climbed onto a squishy loveseat and looked at the ceiling as I sank into an armchair across from him. "Come sit with me on this big sofa," he said. I did, and the two of us lay back on the soft cushions, and looked at the dark, crisscrossed wood of the ceiling. I felt privileged to have been invited by him.

No sooner had I settled than the kiddo was up and at 'em again, wanting to see what else was around. We walked outside and found our way to the back of the hotel, where normally there's a huge lawn just before the broad expanse of beach. Instead of a lawn, however, we found that the hotel had set up an ice skating rink. Amazing. An ice rink on the beach. Plenty of skaters happily circled the ice while hotel employees skated nearby with long-handled squeegees to move the ever-melting top layer of ice off the surface. The water would later be collected in portable tanks and drained on the thin strip of lawn that still showed next to the rink. Several skaters were soaked from the waist down, having fallen in the growing puddle, but that didn't stop them. They smiled and laughed as they skated and bumped into the low wall surrounding the rink. Clearly we Southern Californians need to brush up on our ice skating skills, but we do know how to have fun.

As we watched, I remembered my childhood home in Illinois. My family lived near a large park, and in the wintertime the city would flood one area of the park so it would freeze into an ice rink. My mother took us to a secondhand store once to buy ice skates for us; we kids spent time on the ice, trying to avoid the bumps and twigs that stuck out of the surface. We fell a lot, but we had fun. At the Hotel del Coronado, I realized that my son had never seen an ice skating rink prior to that day, so I promised him I'd teach him to ice skate at a local indoor rink. He seemed happy about that. The kiddo has never seen snow, to my knowledge, so we'll have to rectify that, too.

After watching the skaters for a while, we walked around the perimeter of the rink, and my son got to touch some ice that had formed on one of the water pipes that fed the rink. To him, that was just as thrilling as anything else he'd seen or touched that day, and I enjoyed the fact that he's still easy to please at times.

I still wished I'd brought my digital camera, and I didn't write down a single thing my son said (although he said plenty), but after a while I started to let go of the notion of capturing everything. It was just me and my boy, watching the skaters at dusk, sneaking into the lobby for another peek at the tree, touring the surrounding neighborhood and pointing out Christmas lights on houses, and driving across the fogged-in bridge, back to our little corner of the world. And that was good enough for me.