Monday, September 25, 2006

family dinner :: the aftermath

Research says that eating a family meal with your children will decrease the chance that they'll become crack heads. What I'm not so sure about is how these meals impact the the long terms effects on the parental units substance abuse issues.

But, I like a good internet challenge - so family dinner it was.

It only took 5 ears of corn (we're a family of four), three popsicles and a box of Whole Foods crackers to keep my two drug-free (so-far) kids in their chairs.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

touchstone gone

My Gram died on Tuesday morning and even though she was 88 years old, it was completely unexpected and I catch myself and my family suddenly bursting into tears like we've just found out for the first time all over again.

I tell myself all the things I'm supposed to say: "she had a good life" - yes, she did, but it doesn't feel like she was done to us; "she didn't suffer" - that's true, but we are suffering in our grief over missing her; "she lived a good long life" - again, true. But as my sister said yesterday - "not long enough for us."

My Gram was the perfect grandparent to older kids and adults. I watched her delight in observing my kids and my cousin's kids (she had 5 great grandchildren) and as much as we knew she loved us as children, it didn't feel like she "got us" until we were older. You see, she like to chat. She loved to hear about our lives and our jobs and our partners jobs and families and their in-laws and the neighbors friends she met years ago. She keep a list in the front of her address book of all the birthdays in her family. It's a long list. She came from a Nebraska farm family of 7 kids and my grandpa was one of 12. Aside from my grandparents, they all stayed in Nebraska and proceeded to have lots of kids and those kids had kids, etc. She had over 100 nieces and nephews and she knew them all. When my dad and aunt were kids living in San Francisco they spent every summer with this extended family on the farm(s). I think this was partially because my grandparents wanted their city family to be connected to their roots, but it was also because my Gram was a working mom long before that was common. She was a registered nurse and summer vacations most likely presented a babysitting problem, so a nice long trip to Nebraska was lots of things, but practical must have been right up there.

I'm so sad over losing her that it physically hurts. This is most likely a painful side effect of losing a grandparent and a friend. This woman knew me and loved me and never said a harsh or critical word to me. She was easy and oh boy, easy is not a term used to describe many aspects of my family. Loving and loyal, yes. Easy? not so much.

I didn't get to say goodbye. I saw her two weeks ago tomorrow and we had lunch and chatted. I think I talked to her on the phone at least once in the last two weeks. I know I didn't call her on my Dad's birthday to wish her "happy 63 years later" and that fact alone makes me want to scream. I'd intended to, the weekend just slipped away and then she was gone. She died in the hospital on the morning of the day we'd been told she was going to go home. Just a little blip. Perfectly normal given someone of her age with mild or early heart issues. I'm guessing now that there is no such thing as a mild heart issue and am now trying to focus of the sum of our relationship, not the little bits I wish I could have rearranged in the end.

A friend of mine gave the eulogy at her grandfathers funeral a few years ago and made of point of saying that his family would be his legacy. I do believe she will continue to be the tether that links us together. She will remain alive in us. In the way we talk, laugh, the way we cut flowers from our backyards and bring them inside to put on the kitchen table. Every time one of us counts our Christmas cards and compares the outgoing vs. incoming totals, every time we tell a story that goes on just a little too long, every time we delight in our children's children's children, and every time we write someone a little note and actually place a stamp on it and put it out for the postal carrier to take away into the world, she will be alive in us and we will be reminded of just how much she loved us and how much we loved her.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

the politics of a lunch box

Who doesn't get nostalgic thinking about a lunch box? It's jammed packed with emotion. Remembering the good old days, the anticipation of lunchtime (only to be confronted with the cold reality of what my parents considered healthy vs. the Hostess frenzy going on around me; but I digress), the urge to provide your tot with just what s/he needs to get them through the day, the special note or sticker placed lovingly inside so they know you're thinking about them, negotiating what hideous character (or lack there of, in my - and some others -opinion) should appear on the front.

In today's world there seem to be many rules about the box itself and what goes inside and what it all says about you (I mean them. It's all about the kids, right?).

Some are clear: no peanuts, peanut butter, peanut dust or anything made with peanuts or processed in a factory that uses peanuts or any product that has ever been touched by a person with peanuts on their breath, for that matter.

Others are couched as "suggestions" by the preschool Nazis: "Please don't send any food in a container that can't be opened by your child" (uhm, well...what kind of mood is he in at that exact moment in time? He's three for Christ's sake, are you going to help him if he needs it, or just let him starve to death??). "We frown upon the use of plastic bags here." (gee, really? because I know he can open that, which rule is more important to you?). "Please don't send any treats of any kind (even healthy ones)." WTF? (Does the carrot/banana/granola muffin I made with my own two hands with whole wheat flour and half the called for sugar count as a treat? It's the only way I know to get carrots down his gullet at this point, so you tell me).

And then there's the end of the day inspection of the box. (Not in front of the tot, of course! don't want to start off this educational process by hinting at an eating disorder of any kind.) What does it mean that they sent the top of the yogurt home with him? Where's the container itself? Did I use the wrong container? I did, right? I'm sure I did. Are you trying to tell me that I'm a bad environmentalist? Is yogurt considered a treat??? Why is that muffin that he scarfs down in front of me still in the box and the apple slices are gone? No way did the Bean CHOSE apple slices over a muffin. Did they confiscate the muffin, only to return it to the box to send me some sort of message?

Perhaps I'm looking to find meaning where none exists. I most certainly care too much about what the pre-school staff thinks about me and my family by what appears inside Bean's non-character lunch box. Maybe this is just all new for me too.

Monday, September 11, 2006

the baby buddha

Told you.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Bean: pre (and post) preschool

before the first day of preschool yesterday.

and after! He survived. So we got ice cream to celebrate. Pictured here is one happy preschooler with his banana ice cream & "rainbow sprinklers". Note the ever-present backpack close at hand. The contents, you ask? - his "wio" (blankie) and many, many toy cars.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Bean: "Milk, please!"
(full disclosure: I added the "please" part. The "milk" part was pretty much barked)

MAS: "Your cup is in the fridge, buddy. You can get it."

b: "Okay." - gets milk and closes fridge door.

m: "That's great, I'm really proud of you."

b: "Don't say that!"

m: "Why?"

B: "Don't YOU tell ME about ME!"

Slightly existential for a three year old.

I'm definitely gonna like having this kid around for the rest of my life.