The “compy” did it.

“What every new mother needs is a nice cradle, so that she may rock her child and appreciate him, but not have to endure any suffocating personal contact.” -Jane Smiley’s, Mrs. Bell in Private Life.

Sissy is making lines, like blades of grass in multiple-colors on the easel.  She’s left behind last week’s tight little knotted lines, flinging colors off the paper and onto everything around her, into her mouth, hair, arms and purposely aiming at our “no-no” places as she watches for me over her shoulder. I don’t expect the messy art behaviors to stop, but certainly appreciate this change.  She lays down when things don’t go her way and kicks her feet.  But not when we are together and alone anymore, that’s saved for caregivers and her parents.  She takes liberties with caregivers.  Pretending to get her foot stuck in the chair, unable to reach the sink, or to retrieve her blankie just 6 feet away.  She is less focused on the remote control and more interested in using reachable kid tools, like little stools to reach high objects, then crashing to the ground rolling and knocking each sharp corner on her way down.

Liza is relentless, or is it called full of intention and purpose?  She knows what her body can do more each day as she discovers what it can’t and how those little stools behave.  She’s gathering information, double and triple checking it and finding moments when I answer the phone, to pee or simply blink to try things that I have told her are dangerous.  The door to the outside, chair to the counter, squeezing in to share the dog bed while dog is in it sleeping, pushed chair to get in hanging swing, standing on rocking chair. Kaboom.  I shout.  Please climb down and stop trying to die! I really hate this.  I really do.

Making goo.  What are you doing? I ask you. Making a a special goo. I excuse myself from the carpenter planning session and run into the library-to-be and find the whole room dusted both of you up to your earlobes in powdered grout.  I see myself tuning the hose on both of you, as you stiffen into plaster people of Pompeii. Don’t you dare laugh, I stutter venomously at the carpenters.  Not funny.

Swimming lessons.  “No.  Liza sayed, No!” She’d been so excited, “… swimming, swimming”, recalling Grandpa tugging her around in the Seattle pool last month.  She reluctantly sat on the concrete step.  Okay, I thought, day one.  Then the instructor (I have another name for her), pulled her in and dunked her.  Anyone say “swimming” now, she runs, “NO!”  Oh, well.  But then you  screamed (the only two in the class) No, I don’t want to.  UGH.  I should have used the $240 for a massage and a case of wine. But today, after my call (describing the inadequately prepared swim teacher and offering a few suggestions for simply helping my grandchildren enjoy the pool and cultivating willingness to learn some new ways to move in the water and stay safe…) I hope after today I can breathe easier.  You can too.  After the next class you ran in and told me that you got your eyes wet and that you cooperated with your teacher. Did you have fun?  Yes.  I am proud and it was fun.  I am almost a swimming guy!” So we hike down to the creek alone.

      Our creek is truly a paradise. The place I sprinkled ashes years back.

Nanny Nina took them to swim. I couldn’t stand another minute with you today after the powder, a plate of eggs tossed off the tray to the dog, the entire box of wipes flung all over the bathroom, the toothpaste tube walked on (no lid) and the floor gummed up from room to room and water from the toilet everywhere.  And the unyielding hair-pulling that pins you to the floor. Sounds like lack of supervision. More like lack of interest.

You see, I really don’t care about any of this stuff.  I resent negotiating for services I paid for with the swim teacher, hate the cute shananigans of toddlers and can barely appreciate the sweetness of her walking away, pulling my panties over her head, diaper off and doing a shakey shakey dance, as you call it. People laugh at these things.  I refuse.  I stiffen and work hard at staying her unlovable grumpy gram.  She has to go away some day.  And I better not fall for her.  I Won’t.

What is this all over here? (The lichen green couch that I’d never had bought with small children is smeared with bright red splotches.) (complimentary color)

Blood.   A meat eater took a little bite of me.  A compy did it.

A compthagnasus? A pretend dinosaur bit you?

She ran in here and tried to get the stego and I fought with her.  She’s not pretend. I’ll clean up the blood, Grandma. She just got a tiny bite of my meat.

What are you doing up on the couch back with two fingers out on each hand?

I’m a T-rex.

Get down and help me clean this up.

I’m sorry.  Really I picked a scab again.  (we go thru boxes and boxes of band-aids)

I resent telling sitters and house cleaners that lining up the plums just out of reach is absolutely necessary (so that each one doesn’t get bitten and grow mildew before we can eat them) and that the dog must be able to get in and out or he will howl during Ellie’s nap and awaken her then she will scream for at least an hour. And we have to use only Sleepy time tea at nap now or she won’t accept it and that you are hoping to stop wearing night night dipes, but really haven’t been dry more than two nights in a row yet. And that the kids cannot go in the garden unattended because each green tomato and every unripe berry, and all flowers will be picked and or bitten off and ruined.  You can eat bok choy leaves.  Its all too much.  I have become a systems and procedures analyst, an environmental and schedule control freak, a sheriff and a monster much of the time.  So I hate me a lot of the time. I imagine you don’t notice.  Because children absorb.  And that’s really the shame of it all.

Dad t-rex’s really take care of their kids.  Do they?  Maybe it was archaeopterix that does that.  Maybe its just the Grandma’s.  Are you my grandma archaeopterix?

I will always be your grandma.

Haven’t seen mom or dad for over 10 days.  I wonder what you make of that?  What Liza feels.

Still struggling here, gma.  As you become who you will be and thrive in who you are. Wonder what the bones don’t tell us about your dinos?

                        I love this skeleton concept here, buddy. Very cool.

His board so small; the sea so big

Balance lessons

Getting away…

Twice in three days, an 8 hour drive-all alone. Kids left with mom and dad at our house. A mom and dad unemployed, hungry, no fuel and living in the nether-regions of Lompico.  And I went to help our newly affluent AJ move into his  one-bedroom apartment in Newport Beach.  For me it was a much needed respite, it gave Ann time with the kids and gave you kids time with parents. Grandpa went to the lake to meet his brother and cousin and open the cabin.  The dogs stayed with you.

His apartment was part of a mile wide complex with six pools, dozens of hot tubs, BBQ areas, tennis courts, gym and hundreds of young working professionals, like him. Its a resort complex, tiki umbrellas, firepits, security gates and guards and 100s of partying young people, near Costa Mesa about 10 minutes from the ocean.  Surf buddies are easy to find and on-site parties plentiful. He chose well for himself. But had not enough time yet to make it a home.  He got a bed. That’s it.  Clothes in suitcases, strewn on the floor, crusty to-go cartons on the counter, sandwich and salad fixins’ in the refrigerator (much like his travels-the rooms, apts etc, except for grandma’s red holiday towels in the bath).  Calls came in every few minutes.  Customers after six, work associates on Saturdays and Sunday.  Its the real deal.  I watched him changing.  I watched him manage moral and business dilemmas, negotiations. Reminds me of an adult life, hubby’s time building his business and the blurry lines between our private time and work. He feels the change.  Big time. Feels the loss. Seeking balance; whether its possible or not.

I brought a car full, lost in the space after stowed away.  Went to IKEA, Staples, some expensed, most not.  Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Ralph’s grocery.  We spent a little fun time, eating, shopping and talking about his business and organization ideas.  Very sweet.  I heard him say on the phone.  I want my mom for a roommate. Growing up is painful. And I was watching his skin peel and shed. His new raw self emerge.  The emotions, his internal  uneveness and his steady work self.

He surfed early, left after I went to bed anxiously trolling for women.  He could use a partner about now, he says. His life would be more whole, balanced in so many ways, but more complex in other ways.  But that’s what he wants.  I’ll be glad when this self occupied, girl crazy guy vaporizes. He can locate a Brazilian in any crowd and did many times, hearing an accent, a fashion look or a Portugese phrase uttered in a check out line.  He’s such a good flirt. Makes contacts, networks and finds friends in men and women all day long.  I was floored by his outgoing nature, and dedication to meeting, talking and really connecting with people-old and young, cab driver, waiter, waitress, shopper anywhere.  I realize I hadn’t hung out with him for a long time.  Barcelona?

When I left he still needed eggs, veggies, a couch, chair, and wall decor. He called today and asked me how to make coffee in the Chemex drip maker. And had just found the food I stowed away while he was surfing. He told me he’d pay me back tomorrow. After his first paycheck.  “Good.  I can give it to your brother,” I didn’t say.

On left-surfing traveller -Right the intense dream job


I was glad to see you two kids when you got up this morning.  I wanted to hang out here and do nothing.  So that’s what we did.  Had a lovely day.  And look forward to some help tomorrow.


Learning to play well together

Play Buddies

What ever I may be experiencing as a grumpy, resentful adult, you children continue to grow, change and develop. Bring joy. The life force you bring to the daily pulse of our household is powerful and momentous. Predictable routines uninterrupted, you thrive.  July is a free month.  No daycare, no preschool.  What’s burdensome for me, is a developmental opportunity for you.  You paint, dig in the sand, go for walks, play in the sprinkler, eat pea pods off the vines, snap off spears of asparagus, chives and plums that you forage as you explore. Today you found two ripe thimble berries.  MMMM. And a hazelnut that was unripe, but now you are watching the only bush that hangs full.

You do these things together.  “Come here Sissy, there’s new peas this morning!” you, shout.

“Do you want to play ballerina?” You ask.  “Yes!” she shouts.  And you both twirl around the house, She watches you carefully to see how the game is played.   Executing her twirls and soft landings with ease.

100_3666“Want to play horse?”you ask this morning.

“No.” simply stated, as Liza sits down to play alone.

“Little quails?”


“Baby chicks?”


“Want to get on our bed and play night-night?”

“No.”  All of these “Nos” while sitting on her bean bag looking at a book.

“Sissy, why are you saying “no” so many times?  Say “yes”!”  you demand.

“Now, let’s play tent and camping. Want to?”

“Yes.”  And the blankets and stools are pushed into place, tossed, taped and a tent play is in progress.

Daycare has surely changed Ellie.  She has also matured a bit, gained confidence and is more secure in her routines.  She experiences mastery in her daily activities, mixing eggies, peeling bananas, pouring water into a cup and putting on her own pants (sometimes on her head, but On, nonetheless) All of this is mixed with less frustration than previously battered our sanity.  We notice the house feels less stressed, smoother, more relaxed.  Almost as if I am a the real mommy.  Resigned for now.  No long term plan.


Yesterday I interviewed a couple of caregivers for July and August.  I just want some help (not professional, like our dear Gina) taking the kids to swimming, gym class and play at the beach or park.  Walks in our neighborhood and someone who may want to stay on and rent the cottage when we leave.  Must love gardening, the woods, know life in the country and be ready to manage independently. Exchange child care/support for rent.  A capable couple would be ideal.  The other “hitch” is that the kids room would stay in tact in the back and remain available for overnites. We hope that September is the end of house construction and we can move in October. We moved into the old house in 1999 in October. I remember a dramatic lightening storm when I was refinishing the kitchen cabinets.

AJ found a place in Newport Beach apts for young working professionals.  I’d love to help him set it up.  Maybe leave the kids for 3 days and drive down to help.  Maybe I can figure that out.  We’ll see.

You are having a great summer, buddy.  Lots of talk about fears (meteorites, monsters and wolves) and pretend play (chickens, quail, deer, dancers, kittens and vets in airplanes to Africa).Wonderful stuff.