Right Here in River City

I don't know when it happened. I've become a person that has a hard time with transitions. I develop allergies. I get anxious. These reactions are predictable, but for the most part, unpreventable. So, when, in May, I looked ahead to a summer of no pre-school and very few structured activities, I started to sneeze a bit, as I tried to map out how we would spend our days out without going crazy. I'm just that way.

It is a relief, therefore, that I am no longer in transition. Summer is here. I still am working out activities and such, but we are here. No morning rush. More room to breathe.

Take for instance, Friday morning. As I was getting breakfast together, Rachel handed me the lyrics to Seventy-Six Trombones (The Music Man) that we had printed out a few days earlier and asked that I sing the song for her. I finished what I was doing and sang for her, as I read the lyrics in ridiculously tiny 5 point type. Then we all marched up and down the hallway singing the song.

While Hannah is still asking to watch or listen to Annie, Rachel has moved on and in my humble opinion, upwards. She has become a passionate fan of The Music Man.


We watched the play live when one of her little friends was in it a while back. Then my husband bought the music. This past Sunday, we rented the movie--the Robert Preston and Shirley Jones version. Ahhhh. Perfection. I adore this movie. It used to be a tradition in my family to watch it at least once when we came home for college vacations. I have to admit, it makes me little proud that Rachel loves it, too. Such mature taste we both have (tee-hee). After watching both the play and movie versions, Rachel's initial favorite scene was the romantic song on the footbridge. One time, she even literally sighed at the end of the scene. I would worry, but I was exactly the same way at her age. My uncle still tells the story of taking me, my sisters, and cousins to Snow White when we were kids. When he asked us what our favorite characters were, I answered, "the prince," while all the other kids called out a name of one of the dwarfs. I was so young, I didn't undestand my feelings to be romantic in any way. I was just really impressed by the guy--who sang a good song and seemed so darn nice. Rachel is at the same stage, experiencing romantic feelings without understanding them as romantic. But back to Music Man. Rachel now loves the final parade scene in the movie. Suddenly, she's interested in learning an instrument. So it's fun and good. And if she ends up coming home one day with a Robert Preston look-a-like, I'll just smile and try to shut up about it. It'll be hard, though. God, I love Robert Preston in this movie and I love Shirley Jones for loving him.

Later on that day, I was searching for something on my ipod and came across two versions of the song "From a Distance" (Bette Middler and The Byrds). We have a beautiful children's book, illustrating the lyrics to the song and Hannah likes it when I sing the song as we turn the pages. So, I put the song on, without giving Hannah a heads-up, and her eyes got wide. Without saying anything she ran upstairs and got the book and we must have listened to the song four times when turning the pages of the book. Then she held the book open in her hands like a prayer book, dancing, and Rachel and I danced a pseudo-tango together.

Afterwards I sat on the floor taking photos of the girls dancing around together to other music. Hannah, who has short hair, was upset that her pony tail wasn't as long as Rachel's. I watched as Rachel tried to explain to Hannah, in a sweet, kindly patronizing voice, that Hannah could let her hair grow and perhaps have long hair by her birthday. Hannah, who has a very limited sense of time and thinks her October birthday is right around the corner, listened and nodded, saying, "I want long hair for my birthday." When her Dad came home that evening she told him, "I want to get long hair for my birthday." And then she said, "I want to watch the "From a Distance" movie." Now we are constantly hearing her ask to go get her hair cut so she can get long hair.

We are making headway on the potty training. (This is the point where anyone who dislikes potty training talk can leave the room discretely.) Hannah is in love with her pull-ups and panties, keeps dry all day, and now.......drumroll.....actually pees in the potty, rather than holding it in all day and peeing in diapers in her bed four times before falling asleep. It was rough for a while though. For about a week, we struggled with her fear or peeing. Then one day, I threw the potty training story books away and started singing a song, with lots of hand gestures, about a girl named Hannah who was afraid of her pee, and how her Mama talked to her pee, wagging her finger sternly at it, and telling it it needed to come out. At the end of the song, Hannah isn't afraid of pee-pee anymore. Hannah latched on to this song and started requesting it. The funniest moment came when we were both tired of being in the bathroom. She was sitting on the potty seat. I was on the foor. She asked me to sing the song. When I came to the end of the song, I was singing something like "Pee-pee I'm not afraid of you!" (I change the lyrics slightly every time.) Hannah put her arms around me, started swaying back and forth with me in her arms while I sang. As I sang, "I'm not afraid of you anymore,.." she sang, "Yes, I am afraid." I started laughing and she laughed right along with me. We laughed and swayed together, giddy from exhaustion.

This week, she's peeing little bits into every public bathroom we come near. I'm constantly in and out of toilet stalls. But it's progress, baby. I'll take it.

And I'll take summer. Yes, I will. My very dear friend, Space, with have to take a back seat for a while. I'm having an affair with spontaneity again and it feels fine, in a dizzying sort of way.

(Which is probably why I can't seem to stick to my only-posting-on-Monday schedule anymore. That and being a Gemini. I may have to get back on schedule soon, but all bet's are off for a wee while.)

Changing the Subject

So, my husband is a little bashful about me writing about his sexy soccer legs and I need to put a new post up here to distract you from my last one. However, I don't have much to say because I'm in a bit of a recuperation period. We had my mother-in-law and eleven year-old nephew here for three days, which was fun, but also more work than I am used to. Did you know that eleven year old boys can still be affectionate? Yes? Because he spent a half hour this afternoon in my arms telling me good-bye and that he'll miss me "mucho much."

I have a cough and sore throat. Why is the cold-flu season moving into summer season? Not allowed.

But my point is, I love my nephew, even though he sometimes makes my head spin. We had a grand time playing Apples to Apples every night after the girls went down to bed. The boy is smart and sweet, and we laughed much. In fact, my belly hurt at times. I will miss him "mucho much." And I will miss my sweet mother-in-law, too.

By the way, if you have to keep re-setting the circuit breaker to your air conditioner on hot days, is there a problem with your air conditioner or your circuits.....or is it just too darn hot?

Oh, and just to annoy you, I'll tell you that Hannah has been talking up a storm and is too cute for words. Too cute. And my Rachel, why I think she's grown two more inches this past week. Really. I've got two tall girls. My tallest girl is missing her nephew mucho much. She loves fiercely. Many tears shed today.

For him

Dear you,

I was eighteen, just beginning my sophomore year at college, visiting a good friend at an on-campus house. You walked in, your skin dark from soccer practices. And something in me.....what is the word....clicked in recognition? Not love at first sight. Looking back I think my soul recognized you. I can't explain it.

First friendship, then something more, then long-distance. Then many years together before becoming parents.

Did I imagine you as the father that you are when I watched your sexy legs playing soccer from my dorm window. I did not. At least I don't remember doing so. I think I focused on those sexy legs and movie star looks and then how you made me feel and how I was more myself with you than without you. And how you laughed at my quirky jokes when nobody else caught them.

I think of you as a deep, saturated green, calming my red, orange, yellow, blue and purple. Sometimes I wear green because it makes me feel closer to you.

You are sexier than you were way back when. But more importantly, stronger, more resilient, more forgiving than I ever could have imagined.

You make me feel beautiful, sexy, funny and free. Without you, I don't feel all those things; I feel less than I am.

I never have compared you to my father, but something happened the other day that made me realize what you have in common with him. You are a peacemaker, a mediator, a reliever of tension. You have faced a lot of pain, taken a lot of....well, to be completely honest, crap....and turned it into something beautiful.

You are and will be the green to your daughters' reds, yellows, oranges and purples, too. Lucky them. Lucky me.

We need you. We love you. We see you.

Love, love,

me

The Significance of Peep

There is just one more notch needed on Hannah's belt before she becomes a big girl with a capital B.

"I'm a big girl and I'm not a big girl" she confessed to me the other night as I was tucking her in after another exhausting round of trying to go potty.

At 2 1/2 she has suddenly become so wise. She is exactly right. A big girl in so many ways. The way she can sleep in a big girl bed without any help at all, and without waking up at night. The way she can hold her pee in all morning and until she's in bed napping. And then again in the afternoon.....until she's in bed for the night. (Sigh.) The way she's been wearing Rachel's pretty big girl panties and sneaking other dirty ones from the laundry hamper, carrying several at a time around like jewels.

And maybe I'm becoming a bigger girl, too. I am slowing down my pace, gathering patience, as we hunker down to get this notch finished.

Because you see, she's afraid to let go....to release the inner faucet.....to pee....without a diaper on. It's happened a few times by accident, when I've grabbed her and placed her on the potty right as she's started to go pee---but these were not happy accidents from her point of view.

This morning I sensed an opportunity. Her bladder of steel's guard seemed to be down. It was 9:30 and she was having trouble keeping her panties dry. She'd take them off and there would be a little round wet spot. "I peeped," she'd tell me, and to be honest peeped seem to be the perfect word for what she had done.

"Well, if you're going pee, you've got to sit on the potty."

"Nooooooooo."

"If you're not going to try to use the potty, we can't wear panties."

"Nooooooooooooooo.'

Finally, I got her to sit on the potty and give a few deliberate drops. Woo-hoo. I celebrated. She got to eat a bit of leftover birthday cake. And she sat on the pot for a good 15 minutes or so while she ate, but nothing more than drops. She had earned the privilege of wearing panties again, though.

I picked up a book while she played by herself. Suddenly, she grabbed her crotch through her dress and said, "I threw up." Apparently, this time the drop was more than a drop. She had definitely not turned the faucet on, however. Just a light sprinkling.

Another half hour or so passed and the faucet turned itself on. She started panicking and crying, I grabbed her and sat her on the potty. She continued to cry as she filled her potty.

I whooped. I hollered. I cheered. She laughed through tears and then just cried. I sat down and comforted her.

Later we were sitting at the table, enjoying some juice as a reward, and I talked excitedly about her using the potty seat. "Aren't you happy that you used the potty?" I asked her.

She hesitated, wanting to be able agree with me, and then slowly shook her head and said, "I was scared. And then I cried."


Later we went panty shopping since she seems to have moved passed her awkward "toddler panties" and earned the right to wear clean big girl panties that she can call her own. Besides, her big sister's generosity was beginning to wear thin this morning and coming home to a pile of wet panties is pretty much going to break the sharing panties deal entirely.

And I am trying to remember to breathe, just like I tell Hannah as as she's sitting on the potty looking at me anxiously and cluelessly without breathing. Breathe, I say, as I take in a few deep ones of my own. So, I'm starting to as I wait for her to let go so she can buckle up her Big girl belt for real. Because I don't know if I'll be there in the labor room one day telling her to breathe. In fact, the odds are that I won't. THIS is our time. Now. And I damn well better enjoy it peeps and all.

A Gift to Myself-a time for sadness.

*I wrote this post on Wednesday and held it to post on Sunday, my birthday.*

Yesterday, I was home with Hannah and she turned to me, looked into my eyes and asked, "What's wrong, Mama?"

The question surprised me a little. Why was she asking me this? We had been through a rough morning. She has fluid in her ear and has not been able to focus or listen for a few days. That morning, our plans to go to the library were thrown aside. My effort to get us out of the house had fizzled sadly. It took me an hour to get Hannah in the car and as I was driving down the street, listening to her cries, and finally realized the poor girl didn't want to go. She was sick, she wanted to be home. So I asked her if she wanted to go home, she said yes, sniffling and we turned around. I let her play with the water table while I sat and watched quietly, until she asked me, "What's wrong?"

How do they know, before we do, these children, that something's not quite right. Yes, Hannah's a little sick, but I realized after her question that our rough morning in the end had more to do with me than her. Under normal circumstances, it wouldn't have fazed me as much to have her off balance.

This morning again, I felt sad. Hannah was right. Something is wrong, but there is nothing to point to, really. I checked my hormonal cycle..no not time for the monthly tears. My birthday...it's on Sunday. You know what? I always get sad around birthday time. Strange, isn't it? I'm not afraid of growing old. I don't really understand it. The worst part of feeling sad on your birthday is feeling like you should be happy.

So, I made a decision this morning when I was driving home with a few tears making their way down my cheeks. My gift to myself for my birthday is sadness. I'm going to let myself be sad and enjoy it.

I don't often write about sad things here beause I really don't want sympathy. I'll call my mother or a sister if I need to, but putting it all out here just makes me feel exposed and vulnerable. Does that sound uptight? The thing is, by the time I'm done writing about sadness, it's on it's way out. I'm over it. Does anyone know what I am talking about. Sadness doesn't always mean unhappiness. I am happy, and just feeling a bit sad. So, instead of offering sympathy, just be here with me while I indulge with sadness. If you want you can cry with me and we'll wipe each other's tears.

Here we go. The following sadness free-write is my birthday present to myself:

Why am I sad? I am sad that I am finding spiders everywhere this week. I am sad that they are big. I am sad that everytime Hannah yells that she has spotted a spider I have to worry that it is a black widow. And I am sad that I poisoned a few big ones yesterday, spraying them with Raid and watching them die slow, tortuous deaths. That got under my skin and made me sad.

I am sad that Hannah has fluid behind her ears. I am sad that she seems to be developing a case of excema that she'll have to struggle with her whole life. I am sad that I wasn't more patient with her yesterday, when she couldn't pull it together.

I am sad that even though I was greeted with "Hi beautiful!" in turn by my three family members when I came down to breakfast, I still wasn't feeling beautiful. I am sad that when my daughter said, "I just can't stop saying 'I love you''" to me in the car, I was too overwhelmed with my own sadness to enjoy it.

I am sad that this is my last morning to myself until the Fall and I didn't manage to clean our garage. I am sad that I can never keep my office clean for more than a week. I am sad that I had to take two showers last night before bed because I was itchng after the first one and have developed this absurd addiction to feeling absolutely clean before bed.

I am sad because the summer change in schedule has me connecting with old mom friends again and I am remembering the carefree one child days when we saw each other three times a week, and often visited ocean, farm and museums in the same week. I am sad that so many good friends live far away. I am sad that I haven't seen my new nephew yet.

I am sad about the war in Iraq. I am sad about lost lives and the irreparable damage that is being done. I am sad, sad, sad, sad, sad. I am so sad.

I am sad that when a person voices opposition in this country, their character rather than their ideas are attacked.

I am sad that Holly and Deni and Vicki lost their mothers.

And I am sad about the number 38, because something tells me that my father was 38 when I was born. One of the last times I talked to my father he was at my sister's house, helping watch his first grandchild. This was 11 years ago. I was talking to him on the phone and he told me when he was up walking this baby at night it reminded him of when he did the same to me as a newborn.

And yesterday when I was making grilled cheese for Hannah, she playfully pounded her fists on the table and said "Grandpa Jerry is dead" a few times.

So, you see, I am sad.

But don't feel sorry for me.

Because I am happy, too.

And in this last hour and a half of time to myself I am going to turn the Dixie Chicks up louder, dance a good while, and make an appointment for a spa with the gift certificate that I got for my birthday.....LAST YEAR.

And that is exactly what I did. Can you hear me? I'm the one dancing and laughing with tears running down my cheeks.

This one's for my husband:

Easy Silence, Lyrics
(Dixie Chicks, The Long Way Home, 2006)

When the calls and conversations
Accidents and accusations
Messages and misperceptions
Paralyze my mind
Busses, cars, and airplanes leavin'
Burnin' fumes of gasoline and
And everyone is running and I
Come to find a refuge in the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Monkeys on the barricades
Are warning us to back away
They form commissions trying to find
The next one they can crucify
And anger plays on every station
Answers only make more questions
I need something to believe in
Breathe in sanctuary in the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Children lose their youth too soon
Watching war made us immune
And I've got all the world to lose
But I just want to hold on to the

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me

**************

And now a little party favor for you, if you're interested: A conversation I had with Hannah and Rachel about desired pets. They were both sick and I was trying to keep them happy. If you're interested I can make and post a transcript. I'm not sure how clear it will be to you.

Oh Henry, It's Time, Baby!

Have you had the pleasure of reading Meredith? Have you?

Funny, subtle, thoughtful, adventurous, real.......and very, very pregnant.

In fact, little Henry should be making his appearance any time now, changing big brother Eli's life forever. Or maybe Eli will be too busy stomping to take very much notice. Stomp. Stomp.

Let's get back to Meredith. She makes me smile inside. This is just a guess, but I am almost sure if we met we'd have an immediate connection. I think we'd make each other laugh...a lot. She's as quirky as me, but funnier. It makes me a little sad, actually. Why does she have to live in Japan?!! Not fair, Mere. Not fair.

But the point is....we are having a baby shower. Here....online. Right now. My wonderful co-hostesses are Meredith's cousin, Momma K, and Marie of Practigal. Please make the rounds to their places, play our games, and then go visit Meredith and wish her and her family well.

If you are interested in contributing to a gift for Henry, there is information at the other websites.

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My theme is Japan.

A while back, my husband came across an article explaining that traditionally, Japanese babies did not wear diapers. Instead, Japanese babies were toilet-trained as newborns. Remembering this, I did a couple of internet searches.

This is something that came up in an image search for "diapers in Japan." Please explain it to me, Meredith.



Are those diapers? Do boys wear diapers when they play baseball in Japan? Expound.

Anyway, I spent way too much time searching for evidence of a diaper-free Japan and didn't find much. I did find out that Japanese disposable diapers are softer than ours, and possibly smaller due to smaller baby bottoms. No evidence, though.

There is a diaper-free movement, not based out of Japan, that claims to base their philosophy on Asian traditions.

Excerpts from Diaper-Free Baby.

"In my many years traveling throughout Asia I saw almost no babies with diapers. Yet I commonly saw infants who would seem to eliminate on command. Their moms would hold them over a gutter with their pants down, whistle a quiet hiss, or grunt, and then the baby would go.

"In traditional societies, cueing sounds for peeing often resemble the sound of flowing water, or urination itself.... In Japan, the childhood euphemistic equivalent of pee-pee is "shii shii". A low whistle is also sometimes used in Japan, and a steady whistling sound is the primary signal in China.

"So, what do you think Henry? Do you have to go "shii-shii?" Where the hell's a gutter when I need one?"

This method actually is somewhat attractive to me....for like a second. And then I imagine holding Rachel or Hannah, as newborns, over the toilet every morning from 5:00 until 8:00 as they grunt their way through a poop due to underdeveloped bowels.

But let's move on. I wanted to find a nice Japanese children's song for Henry.

I found this sweet and wonderful site and tried to choose a song.

This one sounded promising...so cute. The title is The Little Elephant.

The first two lines are adorable

"Little elephant, little elephant,
You have a long long nose."

But being a mother, I was put off a bit by the next line.

"Yes sir, my mother has a long nose, too."

So I tried another one. A lullabye. It's called Lullaby in Edo.

The first verse was as lovely and nice as can be.

"Sleep, baby, sleep,
Oh, my baby, sleep,
How lovely, how lovely,
How nice you are!

But then it got all weird and panicky on me.

"Where's the nurse, where's the girl?
Where's your nurse girl?
She's gone, she's gone,
Far across the hill!


So I chose this one. If you want to listen to the melody, go here It's pretty darn sweet.

A Rolling Acorn

An acorn rolled down and down,
He suddenly fell into a pond.
Then came the loaches [a kind of fish],
Hi boy! Come play with us!

The acorn enjoyed playing with them.
But he soon began to cry,
I want to go back to the mountain.
The loaches didn't know what to do.


My assignment for you? Henry is an American that will grow up being able to say he was born in Japan. How cool is that? I think he will grow up having a sense of adventure and love of travel like his parents. Let's give him an early start by teaching him a bit about the world. Write him a short letter in my comments describing something about the place where you live (locally;not nationally) and what you like about it. I will compile these into a little booklet for Henry. That he can treasure always. Or....look at and say, "Who the hell are these people, mom?"

An animal theme runs through it.

First of all, I’d like to thank Miz S for awarding me a Perfect Post award for last week’s rambling post. The award meant a lot to me because I adore Miz S. I believe she must be somehow related to me we have so many things in common, like having two daughters and interfaith marriages. She’s naughty and nice all wrapped up in one sweetheart of a funny package. It touches me that my post touched her.

Being acknowledged for that particular post was also special because it was a ramble and many of you indicated last week that you like my rambles, which means you like me I think. I also expressed an opinion, somewhat awkwardly, in that post and if I hadn't gotton the perfect post button I probably would have obsessed about not having articulated what I was trying to say clearly enough. I get like that.

You are all so accepting of me, it’s amazing. What a loving environment you’ve created for me here. So thanks to Miz S and to all of you for liking me as I am without the bells and whistles or a cool sophistication factor. What a gift you give me.

(My editing voice says: "Geesh, that speech was long. How embarassing.")

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Take a look at my family tree and you’ll see good, stocky, no-nonsense German-Catholic roots (on one side intense, on the other side Prairie-Home-Companion-ish) and not much else except a bit of suppressed German Lutheranism. I had many aunts and uncles growing up. Some I knew very well. Others not so much. In the “not so much” category, were my Aunt LEFT and Uncle RIGHT, as in positioned to the left and right of me at a table. Having a conversation with them was an intense experience. They competed. Your attention was the prize. I was not aware of this tendency of theirs when I sat down to dinner with them at about 10 years old. I don’t remember how the conversation started, but at some point it became clear that LEFT and RIGHT were not having the same conversation with me. In fact, they were having two different conversations and speaking at the same time, willing me to focus on them. My eyes darted, unsure who I should settle on. Their voices grew louder and stronger. Neither one would back down. The stressful part of this was that they were competing for my eyes, trying to lock me in with intense eye contact. They were from my Dad’s side of the family. The intense side.

Anyway, I was reminded of Aunt LEFT and Uncle RIGHT the other day as I sat and ate with my two girls. Mr. Raehan was late from work so he didn’t have the pleasure of helping to manage this conversation.

Rachel: I am having a dream. I am at school and walking to the bathroom with two other girls.

(I ponder this and wonder how one responds to such a statement. Then Hannah chimes in.)

Hannah: I’m a girl. (Pause) I’m not a boy.

Me: Yes, you’re a girl.

Rachel: (Continues to talk about this dream she is having.)

Me: So, Rachel, did you have this dream last night or are you having it right now?

Rachel: I’m having it right now.

Me: (Again, wondering how to respond to such a statement.)

Hannah: I a big girl. I sleep in a big bed.

Me: So you must be imagining this is happening. It’s not really a dream.

Rachel: No, it’s a dream.

Hannah: I want a girl party. Not a boy party. (Hannah’s birthday is in October).

These two were no help.