Free internet in Pasadena, must be a cheap hotel.  I used to travel a lot and recall that the more expensive places make you pay to connect. Go figure. Oh, dear, the words, “I used to…” pull a pain from my side and into my gut. Herbert Kohl, Koch?  what ever his name was, used it as a prompt in a book to help teachers to initiate childrens’ poetry.  Children would say, “I used to be a baby but now I am more me.”  Wonderful things like that.  What do I say? I used to be a pleasant, hopeful, aging woman with possibilities, but now I am a sheet-changing laundry doing, bending downer, gathering, running after and driving to mom of two at age sixty. Yes, I now get to live with 2 marvelously active young children. But that’s a little sad, so how about…now I am a 1970’s mommy again, struggling for identity, for sleep, more time, some attention, a cooperative and present, help-mate, a husband again, a sex life, personal time and space and maybe a walk a day. (by myself!) Maybe I’ll read Freidman, Tille Olsen, maybe I’ll write a housewives lament and set it to music, an operetta.

I am thrilled to be sitting here in broad daylight, awake without laundry surrounding, dishes calling, robot vacuum chasing dust bunnies stuck on a banana skin, telephone ringing, carpenters sawing and clock ticking.  I am working again! I left at 6 am to get to the airport, Liza and hubby in the low light of the kitchen, kettle boiling water, 1/2 banana already eaten and sippy cup full of milk. Oswald was on Nick Junior.  Grandpa asking Liza to tell him the silly dog’s name (Weanie).  I started to slip out.  Blew kisses.  Let you sleep, I told Grandpa, you have had this congestion for so long.  Let’s keep you home.  Sorry, but she peed thru her diaper and the sheets.  Sorry, sorry.  Be sure and change them before she gets in again (or hope they dry by tonight if you forget).  Remember to take the bag to Aubrey’s with fresh clothes, and diapers for the day.  They can’t take a toy its too hard on her baby Sequoia. Oh, I forgot to buy pull-ups.  This is the bag they come in. I pull it from the trash and toss it on the counter, the sopping pee diaper sticks to it.  Gross.

I’m all dressed up (clean Levi’s).

By the way I won’t stop and feed the horses it’s too dark, I tell him. (I have to go to work and you have nothing but time.  Ha.) Don’t get number 4 diapers, get 3T-4T or they will be tiny baby sized. She already ate a banana? he asks. So no more breakfast? Didn’t you read the pages I wrote for you?  Yes, more. Each morning a cup of milk and a half banana at 5 am and later, 6:30 or so you fix breakfast for both of them.

I had written a few pages (total: six) for Grandpa about what you kids are used to, schedules, locations of items of importance, etc, then cut it by two pages leaving three of what he really will need, and then cut another page leaving 1 1/2 pages of essentials.  I hated leaving out all the dollies names and where your skivies are kept, but he’ll figure it out.  I’ll be back by Saturday. And besides, you will help. (yea, sure).

Last night I took you kids to visit your mom since I’ll be out of town on Saturday.  We met at the Mall.  She wanted to hang out and show them around. (She used to spend hours there pushing the stroller around when their dad was a security guard).  I went to Sears to get you kids some socks and look at shoes, but so did you and mommy.  You called to me across the neon T-shirt racks.  She called out,  They really would rather be with you. You charged across the store and hugged my thighs. I looked at her confused.  She mouthed. “See you later.” So we followed your sister and mommy.  They sat trying on shoes, and hugging, teasing for about a half hour when our meet up time was up and we met up at the entrance to the mall.  Me and you, her with sissy.  I invited her to get a bite to eat with us at Chili’s. You kids were ravenous. She talked about her cell phone, a dance class and all the money she is making. So I asked for separate checks. She ordered fries. We had veggies, chicken and tortillas, you kids finally pooped out and we got home by 6:30 or so, all of us missing the earthquake last night.  She wants me to know, she says, that she is not moving to Montana, that she will stay in town with you children so you can see your grandma and grandpa after the hearing.  Evidently she plans to get custody and to have you live in the house with her friend’s grandpa. She is really ready she reports, and stable and financially able. She believes it.  And has had legal assistance with planning. Something about the Mormon Community. I almost believed her, too.  She can be so convincing and right-headed sometimes.  Should I be worried? Then, not be.

Like when she called CPS (or someone did) and told them that you have access to power tools. What? You are still afraid of them! They showed up at school to interview you. Our attorney had just informed Mommy that she was requesting CPS file to confirm the past issues for the hearing in March. Coincidence.  CPS wars.  Please let this stop.  You children are absolutely best placed with us for now.  Even if we have to spend $2000 to say it again and again.

Betty Jones’ granddaughter attends the Children’s School, lives next door to her grandma and Margie Carter’s live a few minutes away from her in Seattle, she engages with them regularly about school and life and one of Marianne’s kids is taking piano lessons, she reports.  I don’t talk too much about mine.  But I think about you all the time.  Precious ones.  Mommy really wants Liza back, but if she has to take you as part of the package she will. Crucial decision judge has to make.  Make it for the children, please. I love you, buddy.brownfamily-175 copy gma

“Tired Out in Monterey”

brownfamily-124No hearing in January.  We met the attorney at the courthouse and the judge (daddy of a little boy who was in your daddy’s preschool class, Hon. Tim Volkman, Probate) told us that he would delay the hearing as mommy was asking for custody and guardianship terminated and that date was set.  We go again March 2. He explained that after our response to her allegations he may be able to make a decision but he explained that its likely the issue will have to go to trial. $$$$, dang. This is the worst kind of work; dragging myself back through the past and ignoring what went well to report what lousy ineffective and nasty things occurred that might help the judge see that you are better living with us.  I am not sure if the responsibility lies with Mommy to prove that we are unfit or to prove why and how that she is now best suited for taking on the parenting of you two, or if I need to line up all the hard things about your mommy and prove her unfit again.  Or maybe its both. And in all of this what does your daddy get to influence?  Their divorce hearing is in April, and that complicates things for Mom as she finds herself struggling, alone and in a battle with him and so me.  Her resentment, anger and loneliness gives her incentive for this battle.  She has made it her family against ours.  It was inevitable, I suppose but trying and ugly.

This week we went to Monterey Bay Aquarium. On the way you watched the GPS tracking the bay and the highway around it.  You wondered why the dunes weren’t on the map.  What about the birds and the cars?  You planned to get home and make a gooder map.  And when we got to Monterey you told me, “Hey, I just remembered that Caroline tired out in Monterey.  And she had a party. Remember, Grandma?” (retired!) But instead of map making, you started a bath and dumped your sea animals into the tub and played for an hour, then we had fish for dinner. Liza skinned her knee and talked about her boo-boo until bed time, showing Grandpa, Daddy who came by for dinner over and over and first thing this morning (yes, 5 am) showed me again. I think it still hurts.  Liza has a little cold, too and falls to the floor in tantrums three or four times a day this week.  She is talking so clearly these days-grandpa, grandma and seahorse along with everything else.  Totally understandable. She drew her first face, and exclaimed, “It’s Ellie.” Today she will go to Aubrey’s, you back to school after MLK day holiday, and me to work writing -documenting mommy’s mistakes. love gma

Don’t know what to say, buddy

You overhear whispered conversation, our eyebrows pushed down over diverted eyes, lips stretched tight, holding back harsh words. Stacks of important papers instead of art paper, crayons stack elsewhere, then more serious talk, an eruption of angry words.  What is going on here? you ask. Too much overheard.  “I really love my mommy”, you tell me. Too much responsibility for you, little guy.  Although very sweet to protect your mommy. You’ve got good instincts, but this is too much responsibility for a little guy.  Not your job to take care of mommy. A mommy who is frightened, alone and striking out.

On January 9, we have a Probate Court status review of the guardianship. So your life with us can stay the same until mommy or daddy are more ready to share their time with you and sissy and be parents.  But mommy, claws out, spinning stories of woe and mistreatment in official declarations to the court, may have gotten that court date delayed.

In the car on the way to the party you finally cry.  It’s not about the blanket you couldn’t find for the ride.  It’s this darn life you have going on, the confusions and the uncertainty.  It is unsettling, very scary and at times like this, terrifies you.  And other than keeping our conversations more secretive, which of course we need to do, it’s just a damn lousy situation.  Is there anything I can say to you to make it better?

Did you hear daddy and me talking about the papers your mommy wrote? I think so, you sob.

Your mommy loves you so much that she wants to see you more and more.  And sometimes she talks about you and Liza living with her again.  Daddy and I want you to live here.  He loves you, too.

But Grandma, I want to stay with you.

I am your grandma, I will always be your grandma and help care for you, and love you. So many people love you and sissy.  And all want to help take care of you, play with you and enjoy you. You bring happiness to daddy, mommy and me and grandpa, too.  You live with grandpa and me now, but even if you move someday, the love for you will always be here. You can count on it.

I don’t want love.  I want you. You throw a hard toy against the glass.  Maybe I will die, you add abruptly. (Whoa) Actually, my cherished Aunt died yesterday along with the papers filed arriving, her passing slipped by. Mildred may have been 95 or so, died in her sleep.  She raised me until I was 4 years old.  Any resonance?

Die? I ask

I feel like my organs are stopping.  Right in here.  I feel them stopping. He reports like the evening news.  Detached.  (He heard me tell my sister about Auntie M on the phone)

I pull over. Liza is asleep.  I get out and I lay my head on your chest.  Bump, Barump, Bump…I hear one very important organ, I tell you, working hard to keep all the rest of them warmed vibrant and doing their jobs.

Is it my heart? you ask

Yes. I repeat, Bump, join me and place your hand on your chest.  I just thought it was dead in there, but its not.  Is your aunt still dead right now?

Yes.  She had a good long life of over 90 years and finally her heart tired out.  Her heart beat for her all those years. Isn’t it an amazing organ?

Yes.  You pause as I get back in the car. Does my heart love?

Hmmm. I am not sure of that, but it beats, sends blood all over your body and makes your entire set of organs function, including your brain. And I think love may really be in your brain.  But we feel it in our bodies, too, right?

I feel it in my heart and in my skin and even in my tummy.

You are so full of love, buddy. I appreciate that about you.

My sadness is still in me, Grandma.

I know sweetheart.  Let’s always talk together when it gets hard to manage.  That sadness is complicated.  And its mixed with love, isn’t it?

It is, Grandma.


This little reindeer looks like you.  The day you drew these, you were Jan Brett, you tell me. “He’s lonely because his friends are all at the North pole and he forgot the way.  But then his friends came to show him the way.” I am so glad you have friends. We had a relaxing and very sweet Christmas with family here at the house.   I got sick for a few days. You rode your skates all over the deck and played in the winter sun with Liza.  We even had a play date with Logan and sisters Serena and Maya, from school.


You and Lizapretend to be doctors, vets, archaeologists looking for fossils and treasures in the backyard and try your hand at paleantology digging up T-rex bones.  Back to school tomorrow.  You’ll be glad to see your friends.  I’ll be happy for time.  I just started back to work part time on a contracted project I can work on from home with once a month face-to-face.  We’ll see how that goes.

Gpa and Me see how the hearing goes tomorrow (if its still on),  ugh. gma