Many ways to succeed

Your uncle AJ moved out of Sao Paulo and went to a smaller seaside town.  He had a job, a roommate, a bed and friends.  That’s what he’d wanted, he told us.  But really, it wasn’t.  He went through a training program to become a proficient language teacher for a language school for business people.  He was taking Portuguese classes.  He rode the bus 3 hours to work and 3 hours back.  His pay was meager, but he loved the work. Teaching adults.  Yet hated that big, impersonal city.  The holidays go from Dec 10 into February.  So the bed, the roommate and the friends he left to another guy.  One from England or Israel or South Africa.  That guy will move in on Jan 1 to take A.J.s place.

Uncle A.J. is near the sea, now.  Hasn’t a job yet, but most of the business and schools are closed down until after Carnival in February.  A new season, new challenges.  A lot to figure out.  He’s ready for the challenge, he says, and wants to stay for awhile, get a work Visa and succeed.  Its hard and he’s hanging in there, having already learned so much, he longs for it to pay off in the long run.  Longs for success. Who doesn’t?

I cooked, you did dishes

Your Grandpa sure works hard at insuring you achieve successes of all kinds.  He helps you enough, but not too much.  He lets you open eggs for pancakes, figure out how to get those teeny shells back out of the bowl.  He gives you a hammer to pound in pegs and tells you that you have good hand-eye coordination. Yes, I do, you reply. He lets you discover your balance on Tony the mule and as you walk foot over heel on the stone wall along the driveway and listens as you describe what your imaginary horse is learning as you guide him in circles around the round pen with a real training stick. He’s quite a grandpa.  We are very lucky.

I think so today and particularly appreciate Grandpa because of yesterday, last week and his on-going dedication to hanging in there with us.  Your daddy sits at the computer at 6 am after Grandpa called him to come get Liza up and get her changed.  Mommy was too tired.  I can’t yet pick her up, you either, and was still slowly lifting one knee, sliding my backside with my fist and inch at a time, tucking a shoulder under, starting the slide of next knee…basically, taking a half an hour to get out of bed. Liza awakens, Grandpa picks her up, she cries for me as he calls your tent parents. He hands her over, after she has tossed herself backwards in a move of rejection. He tries to get another hour of sleep before he goes to work. But Sissy’s vocalized frustration, your moody awakening and knowing that daddy is on the computer makes him shout.  Shout at daddy, then he trips on a toy, the sleeping dog and spills his coffee.

We are off balance. Grandpa and me.  Maybe you guys too.  Mom and Dad are for sure. I think you are doing the best, you and Liza. My physical shape reflects my mental one.  Spasms and pain into my core; hot lava then solid lead, unfamiliar and agonizing. Steeped in longing, longing for the way we were. Love, resentment and confusion rattle my heart, and pulse into the bruised and tender core. We need to figure this out.  Maybe we will talk about what success looks like, what the future holds and each of our places in it.  Maybe my back will get better, if I succeed in caring for it, helping it heal and stand strong, maybe then success will be easier to define. Maybe this is success. Just a ripple. And there will be a lot of other successes.  We have Gina with you this afternoon, giving you a bath, taking you to play with a friends kids, eating dinner and coming home late.  We have me sitting, napping on the chair, Auntie Robin’s rice hull wrap strapped around my middle.

Grandpa sits in the corner his internet is out again, reading and printing documents, as they fall on the floor fed out overshooting the tray, Liza isn’t here to scoop them up and crumple them. You aren’t here to helpfully uncollate them. Its quiet.  I notice a trail of toilet paper on the floor to my left, stretching from the bathroom, through the bedroom and out near the couch.  I can’t pick it up.

The lessons here are frequent and often annoying.  I need help.  Practice asking.  I have some friends that simply tell me they are coming and arrive.  Thank you for that.  Help today was wonderful.  I forget how great it is to work closely with a friend, chatting, caring for children, making food and all the while sitting with my feet up.  Thank you, Janis. Thank you for visits and thank you for helping me feel loved and cared for even when I am self-centered, tired, cranky and overwhelmed. I uncharacteristically complain and talk about me.  I don’t want to be bad news.  Someplace in this is the grandma who pulls out her brag book at showers, at luncheons and introduces herself as a grandmother of five.  Someplace in this is me the wife who adores her husband and flies off to interesting places for a romantic getaway. A grandpa working on the radio teaching you Morse code, how to use a screwdriver and a mitre saw. The you and the Liza that eat dinner and do homework with some clever adults that are devoted to your success and care deeply about you.  These all seem attainable.  Don’t you think? But only with help.

Success depends on help.  That’s a lesson for us.  ouchie gma

Fairy Wings

Grandpa had a set of small pink plastic set of fairy wings stuck on his back this morning.  They had been left there by you during an afternoon nap.  Your toy playmobile fairy had been uncovered in the bed last night and put on the bedside table when grandpa and I retired last night.  Blessed by fairies.  Might be good, right?

But then it was Christmas and I went to pick up Liza in her crib at 6am, she arched her back and pulled me over to strain my back…and ouch.  I cannot bend, have to silently scream at the use of my right arm and put heat on my muscles throughout the many times singing jingles bells. We went to Robin and Neal’s to eat yummy food and have a good party and last night a party at the neighbor’s where you played with Shelby who bit you on the ear in a wild moment of holiday cheer.  Your mommy told me you cut down the fake tree in your tent after learning how to do it when Shelby’s mom took you tree cutting a few weeks ago.  But I wonder…How long did you have to cut it down, that fake tree, while no one was watching? And why was no one watching?

Mom and Daddy came for a bit to Auntie Robin’s today.  Daddy had to go to work, but Mom came back in our car and went to the tent immediately upon our return.  She usually does that.  She rarely sticks around.  I wonder if mommy is getting used to life without you? Hmmm.  I hope not. Her family did not seem to involve her in their holiday, so Mommy may feel a bit sad.  I am glad you had a happy day.  Your favorite part was the food, actually.  The tapioca, the apple pie, pumpkin ice cream, cookies, the real pineapple sitting on the counter.  The candy canes. You talked about these things all evening.  Then you went to bed early.  So tired.  So tired.

Well, buddy, I am sipping whiskey for my back and writing to you to relax.  I’ll get to bed pretty soon, that makes me happy.  Hope you and sissy are well tomorrow.  That sister’s cold is getting better and not worse. That Santa brings you both a healthy new year.  Love you, gma-ma

Merry Christmas, Gma-ma

img_1207Today is Christmas Eve. 4 generations.

We waited for mom and dad to come by so we could get some pretty things for card making.  I wanted to show you how to make our own cards.  And let you have fun with paints and sparkles.  They didn’t show. So we went all together, you me Liza and both of your coughing gooey nosed colds. I decided not to care if someone scoffed at taking a baby out with a sloppy new cold.

We got strapped in and I forgot my list, and when I got back the dog, Georgia had hopped in the car and was on the passenger seat smashing a dry flower wreath I was going to drop off at the neighbor’s. Georgia had also tried her old spot now occupied by Liza’s carseat and had upset the baby in it.  I shooed her out, tossed the wrecked wreath in the trash and we sang our way, sissy crying the entire trip, down the hill.  At Trader’s she was strapped in the cart and you promised not to put things in unless I said it was okay.  After a pie, some horrid looking strawberries and a rum soaked raisin loaf cake hit the bottom of the cart, I stopped and firmly reminded you about our agreement.  I didn’t even hold your upper arms this time, you still cried at my firmness. You re-agreed.  I reminded you when you reached one more time to put your hands in your pockets.  I am sure I growled like a bear. What pockets you asked?  UGH. I wiped Ellie’s nose so many times it started to redden, so I used my t shirt hem as it was softer.  I tried to keep it out of sight under my jacket. She stood with the straps tightened several times.  Ellie, sit down.  Put that back, I told you.  No we are not going to buy that beer for Uncle Neal, that cheese wheel for Grandpa or that huge candy cane for anyone.  Uncle Mike doesn’t need more candy.  Let’s get your yogurt.  Great.  You found it.  Sit down, Liza. She wiggled and cries in earnest and I notice that she put two legs in one hole and was squished.

I unstrapped Liza and hooked her to my hip and watched a bottle of syrup drop to the floor with a crash and the man (this is true) behind us slide his walking cane into it and nearly fall.  Liza caught him.  Or rather he caught me and Liza with the one-armed grab. Sissy squealed and he glared and adjusted his hearing aid which was began a piercing electronic squeal.  Liza stopped and stared, then shaping her mouth into a bow, delightfully mimicked the squeal of his tiny ear machine.  I wiped her nose, went for help and you wailed because of the spilled syrup and glass.  In an intake of breath you asked if you could please have just one taste of it. What are all these people doing shopping on Christmas eve? NO.

At CVS where I decided, because of its proximity to Trader’s, we’d get art supplies to add to what we already had, the store was packed with sketchy people.  One bumped me and I tightened my hold on my purse. as he went for the strap.  He and his friend were asked to leave the store. Sit down, Liza. Another knocked our basket in a squirrley drunken walk toward the door and a lady smiled a rotten tooth smile, with accompanying breath, at Liza and petted her head.  Shescreamed and tried to get back to the safety of my hip.  You said to her, “Don’t touch my sister without permission!” bravely stomping forward, “And you don’t have permission.” you shouted after her.  We got some paper, new markers, “They are not called felt tipped pens, Grandma” you said.  And you tossed a blue car, a book and a fairy princess set into the basket along with some kind of dried spicy meat stick.

Up the hill sissy started to doze, but had a coughing fit and threw up the baked ziti lunch we had just before we left for town. We were almost home so I didn’t stop, but you told me it stinked really bad and threw up, too.  OMG. Just stay home.

I once told your mom, “Never to feed kids in the car seat, it just messes them up,” I’d explained every time I’d cleaned them up for her. Never put kids in them, that’s the real secret, I now realize.  No kids in the car seats, no dogs in the car, no wreaths on the seat, no trips to town at Christmas time.  Just stay home and make cards with natural objects.  Use what you have. Or don’t make anything. Just skip the holidays.  Right.

I just finished your stockings (you and Liza are asleep).  I just had to do a little something sweet, from my own family tradition, with my hands, and for you and your sister.  Christmas should be a special time. I love you guys.  I love you being here.  Even if  we can’t see it sometimes.  Its true. You will always have a home here with us if you need it. Always. Tomorrow we go to Auntie Robin’s to have dinner and open presents and we’ll sing on the way to town.  Merry Christmas, gma-ma

The best gift

This is a precious moment.  I cried a little as you left, then some more and more and not wanting to sop around on such a beautiful day, so I made myself stop.  And decided to tell you about it.  I am overwhelmed.  Today it is because I am so grateful.  Grateful for sleep and some time alone.  Grateful for Gina, your new friend and nanny.  I awakened to the quiet morning.  No one squealed, hummed, barked, whined, scratched on the door or called my name through the echoing kitchen.  Instead, I heard birds. It was dark, the moon-glow surreal. I had slept.  I stretched and got up, slipped out and closed the door so as not to disturb Grandpa.  I flicked the switch on the coffee maker (which I’d readied the evening prior) and snuck a peek and your sleeping face amidst the fresh flannel comforter in the new bunk bed.  I stand on my toes to see Liza, still soundly asleep in her crib, snuggled with a tightly wound blankie I got at Toys R Us last week.  This is my time, I thought.  Mine. (even if for just a few minutes). And it was.

Today Gina came at 9, stepped in, talked sweetly on her knees to each of you as she slipped on socks, shoes, one hand sliding sippy cups in the canvas bag, helped you with your jacket, moved your car seat into her car and said good-bye. She took charge.  Just came in, wiped a teary face, carted you out and said she’d bring a receipt from a light lunch if that was okay and went to Mothersong with you.  Just like that.  Took charge.  I had no idea how moved I’d be by this simple gift.  How deep was my need to have someone take over.  Just come in and take over.  And leave me in peace for a few hours in the house.

I wandered around doing things that have been niggling at me; painted a spot above the mirror in the bathroom where we lowered the old mirror so you could see yourself. I put away and re-stacked the dishwasher, moved some things to the garage from the back porch and stored some of the too small clothes in zippered bags from the new flannel sheets. I ate an egg that stayed hot for the entire meal that I ate in one sitting.  I am worried that I will waste this time.  That I don’t have my wits about me.  The last two hours I got were when Mommy and Daddy came over and I wanted to go to the store for groceries.  I also wanted to get some Christmas cards, wrapping paper, a gift, your sheets, a mattress, some paint and some new socks for Liza, but I couldn’t make any one of the stops productive.  No twin sheets at Costco, or twin mattresses or the gift or baby socks.  Crowds and not a thing done.  Out to baby bloomers for socks and got some pants and a shirt and overalls, but forgot the socks.  Got groceries, but got nonfat milk instead of whole milk for you guys and forgot the beer.  So frazzled, I had to ask myself out loud if red light meant go or stop.  A lady beeped really loud then I knew I’d gotten it wrong.  Red is hot, I had reasoned, so probably it means fast, like go fast.  Dangerously low on brainpower.  I stopped for a nutritional smoothie.

But today I feel like Ellie Foster.  A Grandma in our community who just amazed me when she stepped in.  Ellie Foster, who I barely knew, but she was kind, intelligent and took in her grandchildren.  She was my hero.  I’d see her all over town with those lucky children.  Taking care.  I have no plans to continue this arrangement until you close your door to hide new body hair from me, or want to drive or apply to college.  I have plans that mommy and daddy are going to work things out to become your caregiving parents again. Maybe they need a Gina, too.  A college graduate with life skills, confidence, and the ability to simply bring the gift of her ability to know what to do.  To take charge.  That is her gift to all of us.  But especially to me.  Thank you, Gina.  You are the best gift. gma

Picking up Toys

Santa comes soon.  I haven’t had a moment to help him.  I usually do.  I love to make things and though my hands twitch with readiness, they are busied with other activities; dry and chapped from dishes, nose wipes, floor spills and diaper changes.  On my thumbs a deep crevasse has developed andf throbs. I bandage them most nights with Neosporin to moisten them.  A small thing I take time to do for myself. Other things like brushing hair, teeth, showering, well, maybe every few days.

Liza is an explorer and an adventurer.  She pushes the limits and the chairs to counters to gain access, climbing up on surfaces, opening every drawer, pouring out the dog water, flooding the laundry porch and placing slippery and sliding clothes from the drawer into her own pathway so she trips, falls and bonks her head.  I don’t remember bending so many times a day.  I don’t recall the stiffness, or the ache from picking up and putting back all day long. Maybe just maybe I am too old for this. Likely excuse!

Maybe I’ll take all the toys and play objects away. Give her nothing to spill or slide on, doing splits until she rips in half in frustrated squeals. Making the rash of her cocksackie virus redden angrily right along with her, the teeny bumps in her mouth making eating unpleasant so hunger is constant.I think she wants to eat me.  All up.  Bite by bite.  I am sure of it.

And you, her brother, well, the puffs for asthma, the antibiotics, the cough medicines, wet pneumonia make you nutty, high and erratic, impossible. I am not at my best.  But your room is done.  The bunk bed, the crib, radiant floor heat and sweet lavender paint job is lovely.  Special. A place for you and sissy to find rest and a special place of your own. Grammy sized the curtains you closed tonight, brought you yummy cookies, soft enough to share with your toothless Mom before she headed off to bed.  No surgery today.  She thought there was, but says she has to have a warm, safe place to heal.  A real house, I guess. Montana? So it was cancelled to be rescheduled.  I hope she’s not confused by my stalwart resistance to helping her.  That this is right, the struggle real and they can figure it out.

I have become like the crazed student that has to pick up and round up the toys instead of observing and learning.  Instead of interacting.  The student that trolls the room picking and pecking at items left astray, items on the floor, out of their baskets, missing from the set.  That’s me.  That less capable place I go save me.  Makes me crazy, too. Pick up the kitties, the set of dogs, count them, is the shepherd missing again? The guy with a hat that sits in the car with the rubber wheels, here he is, put him back.  Put it back, put it up here, over there, make the set complete, can’t sleep if the lady with the green vest has no hair on. Quit playing with the toys.  Quit making a mess of things.  OMG  You are acting like children!  Stop beagle, don’t chew that dolly.  No, go outside.  Don’t eat the dog food, Liza. Doggie might bite.  Ouchie.  Ouchie.  No. Today mommy came for 20 minutes.  I ran over to the site, breathless leaned against a wall, hiding, a fugitive, crazy, hiding from you and your sister.  Caught by a carpenter, sure let’s look at a sample for the trim.  Oh please let’s.

100_3850By 7 pm I am so tired, done in, lifeless and mean.  Stay away.  Grandpa, help me just come in and help, please.  I am ready for bed.  Ready for sleep.  Try out the new bedroom.  See if one of us sleeps.  Maybe everyone but me.  That’s how it will be.  Why’s is that?  Why?

I have to go to bed, grandma.  I want to sleep in the tall bed tonight. In my new room.  Goodnight.  I love you, you said.  I love you buddy, I said.  I think I still do.  But I am not the one to ask. Check with me another day.  maybe after Gina comes on Thursday.  Maybe that day mom will have firewood or a place to live for awhile or Dad will find some money.  Maybe that day I will do a little Christmas.  Or maybe I’ll hide and sleep.  We’ll see. gma


Bananas, orange peels, lumps of cold scrambled egg, crusts of bread, non specific wetness on floors, pants, bed linens, on the your and Liza’s freshly donned shirts and smeared along with gelled goo across lower windows.  Before this I fondly wiped them clean, picked them from drains and walked about with a dry rag and chamomile scented spray.  That was the grandma-me.  This is the tired old mom me.  (I wonder at my impatience, yet also at my skill to manage it all mostly pretty well.)

On the way to school you say, “Are you still my grandma?”  Of course, I answer.  We just left Liza crying and exhausted from too early a rise (4:25 am) with Grandpa and a bottle. (for her, not him)

Are you thinking about me?  I ask.  “Yes.  I think maybe you, (and you pause, giggling), you are my mommy now.”  I love taking care of you and your sister, I tell you.  “I love you, Grandma”, you sigh.

I left you at school with a card for Carl, who is leaving your school to “pursue other interests”. You wrote his name, Elena’s name and signed it with your name.  You drew and airplane with big windows to see the clouds. I had never seen you write and neither had Carl.  You felt so proud. Me too.

Liza awakened and Grandpa went to work.  She is still fussing and I had to escape a minute by paying attention to you on the computer.  We hired some help.  Gina just graduated from UCSC Community Studies and has worked with several families and children.  She starts next week for a day and then will come 3 days each week for a total of 20 hours.  Mostly with Liza but you too sometimes.  I may need to go back to work to afford all the help we need.  But I’m too busy.  Maybe mommy and daddy won’t take too long to become ready for you.

Mommy and Daddy say they are out of firewood.  They forgot to think about it until it was gone.  Now its very cold and the tent is beginning to mildew.  Mommy says all your clothes and sheets are wrecked now.  She will go have surgery soon to fix a hernia.  I wish she had a warm place to heal.  Our beds are all full.  I asked her to tell a social worker that she needs shelter.  Maybe they could rent a room in a house for a few months.  Know anyone, buddy? Daddy has a little bit of money.

I am a lousy mom.  I used to be a good one.  And I used to be a good Grandma.  Now I lose my temper, watch too much TV, drink wine each night and use the computer while I should be hanging out with you.  I had no idea this me existed.  But here she is.  Right here typing while sissy plays on the floor with the dog’s disgusting food bowl.  I’m too much for myself.  Better stop typing.  I love you, your gma-maewalksalonepink

Final Confusion

Last week we looked at the final schedule online and at the syllabus and confirmed that Tuesday is the Final but early.  Mom says its on Monday.  She meant her Lab, I think.  But she was dropped from her Lab because she didn’t understand that she had to go.  She thought it was optional.  Performance optional.  Responsibility optional. I waited for Mommy to tell me about the birthday circle muffins and words she wrote about your life.  She wanted to do it, so I didn’t.  But then she didn’t because she had daddy take her to class when there was really no final and shopping and they missed your birthday circle.  I should have been there.  I apologize.  I would have said this about you to your class, to you and Carl and teacher Robin:

Happy Birthday little one, as you get bigger and older, you get more funny, more smart and so strong.  You are nearly a handful.  You used to be our precious baby.  You liked Grandpa best of all.  And he’d hold and rock you.  I rocked you, too.  And Carl was your caregiver and he sang, ‘I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad” to get you to fall asleep.  We all sang that song after that. (And I’d hum a bit of it for you and Carl) When you walked you were careful.  Unsure of your balance and took a long time to run. You loved to eat everything, tomatoes, red onion, avocado, salmon and noodles and rice.  When you were two, your favorite food was blueberries, playing in the sandbox and staying all night with me in my bed. When you were 3, it was shrimp, feeding horses and planting in the garden boxes, picking fruit from the trees and going to Echo Lake cabin.  And at three you liked to run, push your scooter, ride the mule, pet your kitty, feed the birds, play at the park and dig in your sandbox. Now we’ll learn what you love to eat at four, what you will love to do and who you enjoy playing with.  All these things you will let us discover, celebrate and share.  Happy Happy birthday and to a fabulous year of being four, little buddy.

Mommy is home after we picked her up last night.  She will have hernia surgery next week.  Then she will try to heal, she said.  She will have to lay down a lot she told you.  I know, you said and blew at her in an exaggerated exhale.  I have to get back to the house again for an hour or so to get propane trench set up, call for window delivery and get the lighting guy on task.  Happy day my four-year old buddy -gma

Breathe 2,3,4

Keeping little ones safe, fed, clean and healthy are as familiar to me as walking.  Keeping you and your sister busy, appropriately directed, engaged, interested and basked in attention is what I have practiced for forty years, made it my work, my passion. I walk, I sleep, breathe, hold you and sissy, comfort, soothe, tell you and ask you things and mostly understand what I see and hear.  Grandpa and I read you stories, put out the art caddy, help with socks, and teach you to do it yourself.  Food in the morning, at mid-morning, lunch, mid-afternoon, early evening, packed in bags for outings, poured into sippy cups, pulled out again, sticky, damp, to be washed, sorted and stored. More dishes, more food , more empty boxes, tubs, cartons, tightly packed cupboards, recycling bins overflow, stacks and stacks of things.

Things everywhere, underfoot, at the door, under the couch again, trip and slide, bend and pick up. Little teeny slippers and tennies, kid sized Keens and boots, rain gear, damp for days, hanging on chairs, on knobs, draped over things we’ve been looking for (for days), of all sizes of things, jammies with feet, bottoms, tops, new shirts, fuzzy slippers, dresses, cotton leggings, poked into one drawer, jammed in, pulled out and strewn across the floor again this morning, brightly colored, beautiful to look at again and again, Ellie stretches them in front of her then lays in them, kicking her rubbered stocking feet around, humming with delight. I can’t hum yet this morning.  Or find delight.  Not quite yet.  Not quite yet.

I bend to pull on my own huge slippers, scoop sissy from her crib and its not yet 5 am.  We had a birthday yesterday, I think.  We survived. Had fun, actually, especially after we left the pizza parlor.  The weather was nice so we packed up before cake and went to a local park.  Sand and blue sky and slides, swings, presents and running around.  All outside!  Thanks everybody, Grammie for cake, Uncle Mike for the Tootsie treats, Auntie Robin for a play mobile set that you played with all evening, taking parts of it to bed with you.  Thank you to Shelby and Katie and Grandpa and Moxie and ….I’m exhausted.  I don’t think I have ever been more tired for a prolonged period of time. I have.  I just forget.

What I loved about today buddy, is you.  I am four, Grandpa.  Grandma, I am four now.  You told everyone.  You learned to hold your thumb and stand four fingers up to show the lady at the store. You told daddy.  Mommy.  She was in a hospital bed all night and still is.  She had a panic attack downtown with daddy and now she told me she is too sick to come home for awhile.  You didn’t like seeing the needle and tube for her medicine.  I will visit alone today.  But not you and Liza.  You’ll go play someplace and I’ll talk to mommy.  I’ll tell her that you are still four and bring her some cake. She needs some help now.  I want her to have a friend, a mom of her own, her daddy, husband.  I’m too busy.  Busy with you.  Busy in my brain and in my feet and back and hips and hands.  We’ll manage,  At nine, I think.  Then we’ll manage things.  We are doing just fine, I tell all of us.  So Grandpa and you and Liza

The Birthday cake

are.  I love you, four-year old, precious boy. gma

2 under five

The cottage is humming; grandpa’s restful rhythmic exhale, your mumbled vocalizations as you dream and Metro the beagle ragged snores.  In the livingroom, Liza’s talking to the little animals she taps around on the coffee table, Georgia our loyal standard poodle, perches nearby in case the baby might need something.  The coffee warms the hands, lighten the darkness and helps shake off a dream.  I was driving up mountains, but couldn’t find the road, my sister was with me, scared and crying, then we plunged, but I must have landed okay because then I was home where a rabbit had made a nest in a pile of insulation, dragging the dog’s food bowl in for her young ones.  I could see two of them munching kibble, and run in circles when they saw me.  The rabbit mother was on her back, four legs spread and her mouth slack, nearly lifeless. Hmmm.

We are guardians, have custody of you and your sister.  The hearing was a simple process, judge read declaration, reviewed paperwork, signed the order and just when the trial was to be scheduled, Ann signed consent.  She seemed resigned, sad, lost.  My son, your daddy was relieved, high, chatty.  On January 14 we return for the hearing on permanent guardianship which suspends parental rights until a court is requested to change it and has reason to do so. On and on….

This morning I wondered where I should hang your jackets, put your little shoes and rainboots, store your lunchbox to be ready for school days.  All of these things have been underfoot, kicking around for months, moved from the floor near the door to the porch and back again, hanging on chair backs, clumped in heaps of colorful small items with the thought that they were visiting, just temporary. Today I will find places for them.  They live here now, along with grandpa’s boots, down vest, drippy rain jacket and grandma’s fleece. The little room addition is nearly done and some things can go there.  Including your beds!

Is there time, I wonder to change the new house design?  Add a place for you?  We had a playroom, but is it a bedroom?  Is the guest room a Nanny quarters?  Is our reading loft your play area?  Too much to think about.  And a little resentment hides scratching just under my skin.

We got to make it through this day, mom’s sadness and anger.  This day when mommy goes to her class.  This rainy day when we make gingerbread cookies.  Plan your 4th birthday party.  I don’t think I can bear a crowded little cottage full of chatting adults.  We’ll go to Upper Crust Pizza.  We’ll invite grandmas, aunties, a few friends from school and you kids can run around a little and if its not raining, go to a park or the beach, ride your new scooter along West Cliff Drive.  Planning your party- my first official act as your legal guardian.  I put you to bed, that was a first after being fully responsible. Maybe it was Grandpa reading you a story or  3:30 am when I combed my hands through your hair to settle you back to sleep? I’ll ask Mommy if she wants to make the cake?  Or is Grammie making you a chocolate one?  I can’t recall.  You could help. You’ll have to get used to that.  Sometimes I forget things.  gma

Off to court

“We’ve never raised a girl before.” Grandpa remarks with a twinkle in his fricken’ eye.  Liza sits at the table tossing lasagna blobs on top of the dog at our feet.  When I remove the bowl, she screams for it back again. She is fiery and explosive.  I’m exhausted by now but Grandpa is just coming in from work, and delighted.

You are at your friend Shelby’s.  Katie invited you to hunt for a tree in their woods.  You each had a hand saw and would get one of your own.  You took off in the Mule 4-wheel pickup thing on muddy trails about 3:30 this afternoon. You returned after dinner and fell asleep brushing your teeth. After Grandpa read a few pages of the Sibley bird book.  Your favorite pages are the owls and pelicans. You could read it to him by now.

Yesterday was pretty regular Tuesday. Sunny and warm for December. I tried to keep you and sissy busy with our comforting routines.  We walked to the construction site, off to the barn, fed the horses, walked to the trail and checked the pollywogs.  We found a dead quail and you checked it for signs of injury, we buried it and Liza learned to “ride” the Kettler push bike that used to be yours.  She squealed and shouted “whee” as we pushed her along.  Her feet couldn’t touch the pedals, so she lifted them in the air as she squealed for us to go faster. When we came in to eat lunch she cried for the bike outside the windows.  I had to move it away from her view.  Grandpa called her an adrenalin junkie.

When we were just about to heat the soup for lunch, the day changed.  The papers had to be signed right away in Capitola.  I poked you and Liza into carseats, grabbing a box of Fruity O’s and your water bottles and zipped along the freeway.  Your dad called, your mom was notified of the hearing on Wednesday and given information about the process in “legalese” confusing and upsetting her.  They wanted my help.  I asked Dad to go and talk to her, to listen. I hung up so the bluetooth speakers stopped filling your head with the confusion of his worried voice, or the worry of his confused voice. The papers took two hours and you and Liza were hungry, the toys in the basket limited and Liza stepped out from under the attorneys desk with an old ant stake. The attorney freaked out.  We walked to Whole Foods to get lunch and returned to sign everything and wait for copies.  When we got home your mom’s dad had come to take you to Salinas to live.  But had to leave to get to the hospital where his wife is dying of cancer. He was never going to invite you all in. Never.

Grandpa was too busy to help at all and I was frustrated.  But someone has to have a normal day. Dad ran away and never will come back, says mom.  But I am sure that is not true.  Mom took the bus someplace and all of us ended out hectic day frazzled, relieved the papers got filed and hopeful that it will go well tomorrow. (And remain curious about the definition of “well”) I don’t know if mommy and daddy are still in the tent.  Maybe not.  But today you go to school.  I find help for Liza for a few hours and go to court.  Uncle AJ called and said hello to you today.  Wish you could read his blog. love you, buddy    gma