Tag Archives: awesome


Have I written this post before? Probably. If you’ve read it before, go look at the calming manatee. Come back tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll put that disclaimer everywhere.

Things are afoot. Arlo is turning 8. I am stopping working earlier than planned, on July 11th. Saint Aardvark is switching to a new job, around July 11th. School might already be out for summer, or it might not, because of ongoing strife between our government and our teachers.

Arlo hopes it is not; Eli hopes it is. I am hoping it is not because I wouldn’t mind a day off before September.

I signed up to participate in a study that trains women between 18-60 to run half marathons and does a biomechanical analysis of them before and after the training. I bought two pairs of running shoes. First, I bought two pairs of running shoes for $180 and then I went across the road and found a running shoe sale and bought two pairs of running shoes for $80 and took the other ones back across the road for a full refund.

I’ve decided I will not work full time at a government job. I need a career I believe in and want to do. I plan to use my unexpected two months of not-working to figure out what kind of work I ought to do. I still write every day. I plan to keep doing this.

I planted things this year and they are sort of growing. The lavender plant has one flower. My neighbour’s lavender plant has many flowers. The spinach is wee, but the bean plants are hardy. The rosebush had eight flowers. Spinach is supposed to be easy and roses are supposed to be hard and I exert the same amount of effort for everything.

Tomorrow I am getting a root canal.

My digestive system is behaving like a tornado during an apocalypse. (This is unrelated to the root canal. I’ve had one before, it was fine.)

Arlo has recently discovered bicycles and how great they are. He had no interest, only wanted to scooter, then my parents gave him a big bike two weeks ago and now he’s bike-mad. Driving home from their house today he said “I’m going to count all the bikes on the road!” There weren’t any. He was very disappointed.

I read a book of essays called The Empathy Exams and I can’t recommend it enough. The title essay is here and I Loved It So Much I looked the book up at the library, then placed a hold on it (the book had been ordered but was not yet at the library) and then rabidly ran up to get and read it and then renewed it and was a mixture of happy and sad feelings when it turned out I *could* renew it because no one else had requested it. People should request it.

Today was Father’s Day and holidays like this on social media make me tired. So much congratulating, so many people who are sad, so many hurt feelings vibrating through the world like soundwaves. Happy X Day becomes Happy X Day to those who celebrate and to those who don’t, you are loved, and to those who have only XY please know we consider you and to those with Y instead of X we acknowledge you and

Can we just say, whenever we feel like it: dear world full of people, you are doing great things? Yes. We can. Dear world full of people, I appreciate you and your feet that walk every day even when they are tired. I appreciate the brains of people who invent things and those that market those invented things. I love the hearts of the compassionate and the hearts of the bereft. Group hug, world. Goodnight, world.

April 1

Yesterday I had this conversation with a crow outside my window.

Me: Yeah I get you. It’s nesting season. That cat is down there. Your lady friend is trying to build a nest over in that tree. I see her. I think she might have some of my hair in her beak, from the dryer vent…
Crow: *fixes his eyes on me through the window*
Me: You know, the day we moved into this place, I was as mad and stressed out as you are right now.
Me: I’ll cut you off there. I know it’s worse to be a crow; after all, you’re a bird. Smart bird, but still a bird. Your choices for shelter are not as varied as mine. I went from an apartment to a townhouse; yes, it was stressful but not as stressful as building a nest out of threads in a tree —
Crow: CAW
Me: Right. But in HUMAN terms. In human terms, we’d just bought our first place. I was six months pregnant with our first child. We moved to a new city entirely. It would be like if you…moved to the middle of downtown Vancouver and tried to find a tree there–
Me: Exactly. You can’t even. I didn’t know how it was going to turn out. Everything was an omen. We bought the place on my birthday. That was good. Our movers were flakes and we had to fire them a week before the move. That was bad. When we arrived to move in, the previous occupant was still here…
Crow: CAW?
Me: Seriously.
Me: I know. That’s what I said, but, you know, in English. It didn’t look good for a few hours there. It looked very bad. I didn’t think this was the right place to make a nest at all.
Crow: CAW
Me: Well there was another tree outside our window at the time. There have always been trees…
Me: Anyway. It turned out OK. See? I’m here. The kids are at school. The sun is shining. That cat is too stupid to get you.
Crow: CAW
Me: I know, you have to crow anyway. But — it’s going to be okay.


Eight years ago today, we moved into the townhouse where we still live. The walls are no longer as white as they were. They are peeling in places and scribbled on in others. The floors are a perpetual swirl of tiny elastic bands, the heads of LEGO minifigures, hair, toast crumbs, and good old human dust. Our little porch is a nice place to sit and drink coffee on a chilly spring morning. We know our neighbours and our neighbour’s pets, and the birds we see on the walk to school.

I mentioned the anniversary to the children as we walked from school to trampoline class at the nearby park/arena and Eli said, “Wow! Let’s celebrate with cake!”

(I might need to start a cake company so that can be the slogan.)

I do so love our nest. Caw.

Dog Friday

I had the day off today. I also had Monday and Wednesday off but somehow having Friday off makes things more festive. When I got up this morning, the sun was rising SUN! SUN! and SA walked the kids to school because he always does that on Fridays and I stayed in my pjs five more minutes before going for a great run. In the sun.

Today is the sun after all the rain. It hasn’t really been raining. This has been a metaphor.

Anyway, as they were leaving for school, I pointed out to Eli that his stuffed dog, Shortbread, was on the kitchen floor, having been removed from the school backpack. Shortbread goes back and forth to school a lot. He stayed there for a week, in the Pet Hospital in kindergarten, but he seems to be fine now.

“Is Shortbread going to school?” I asked. “Or is he staying home with me.”
Eli thought about it.
“With you,” he said. “You can take care of him. And Black Eyed* too.”
“OK,” I said.
“Don’t forget to feed them,” Eli said, glaring at me.
“And what about when they have to poop?” I asked.
“They don’t..do that,” he said.


The first thing I did was take a picture of the dogs and me. Because the camera was right there. Aren’t they just the cutest?


*Black Eyed might actually be called “Mini No Name**” but I don’t remember exactly.
** because Eli has a stuffed BEAR called No Name, you see.

Then it was time for me to go for a run. I debated taking the dogs but decided I didn’t want the weight. So I kissed them goodbye. I figured they’d be okay for an hour.


Wooooeeee it was a good run. I am slowly building up stamina to a 40 minute run. Today I ran more than walked, and that is better than Wednesday. The streets were not too icy and my lungs quickly got used to the cold air. My hands warmed up at exactly fourteen minutes in. Weird.


The dogs were glad to see me. This is my pink running shirt that was five dollars in the bargain bin. My joke to the neighbours I see when I come home from running is, I run until my face matches my shirt, and then I’m done.

I had a shower, but the dogs stayed downstairs. Then I had a snack. They didn’t want any. I needed a bit of food because the next thing we did was GO TO COSTCO!


Well, first we checked our storage room to see if we needed coffee. We did.


They had never been to Costco so they weren’t that excited, but they were happy to be in the car. They like the car.


Shortbread fell asleep in the car, just like Eli always does, but Black Eyed stayed awake the whole time and seemed to enjoy the music on the radio.


Costco was busy, no duh. Friday afternoon. I parked far away and hiked in.

Yeah, I had a list, but we also had to look at other stuff, like the kid-sized recliner


and the Kobo.


The dogs really liked riding in my purse in the cart, and I think I liked it too because being without children but with stuffed animals makes you Kind of Crazy. Throw in the fact that you’re photographing the animals, and people get out of your way at Costco. Just the way I like it.


After some dithering, the dogs got bored and started to act up so I knew it was time to leave.



Last stop was at Safeway and the liquor store, because it’s Friday! Friday at the Safeway/liquor store parking lot is almost as crazy as Costco, so we parked far away again. Exercise is good for you! It’s a sunny day!


At Safeway I bought milk and bananas. At the self-checkout, the clerk came over and said,

“You’ve got a dog in your purse.”
“I have two!” I said, and dug out Black Eyed.
“Oh that’s so cute,” she said.

She did not seem to think it was odd, which was odd.

“They’re my son’s,” I said. “When he left for school he asked me to watch them..”
“So cute!” she said again. “My husband still has his stuffed bear from when he was a kid. And I still have my stuffed Santa.”
“Wow,” I said.
“The Santa was the only thing I saved from a house fire when I was two,” she said. “Everyone but my brother survived. He was two years older than me. But my parents and my seven brothers and sisters survived. And the Santa.”
“Wow,” I said again. I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“My husband bought me a big Santa just like the little one, she said. So I have an old one and a new one.”

It’s great, the things people will tell you.

We went on to the liquor store.


Black Eyed allowed as how he has seen me drink a lot of Fat Tug and maybe I should buy some. I had my usual debate over nice, hoppy beer? or nice full red wine? Decided on beer.

The man ahead of me at the liquor store told the cashier and me a story about hitch-hiking through Alberta when he was fifteen, hair down to his butt, old ladies throwing eggs at him from car windows and yelling at him to get out of their town, because he was a dirty hippy.

I liked the story because of him, the young hippy, and because of the awesome old ladies throwing eggs, however misguided they might or might not have been.

He and I walked to the parking lot together. He said, “It’s like Willie Nelson said, ‘if I’d known I’d live so long, I’d’a taken better care of myself.'”

I laughed.

“Now, where’s my car,” he said. “That’s the problem with being an old hippy, you can’t remember where your car is…”
“I can’t help you with that,” I said.
“Have a good weekend,” he said.
“You too.”

Happy to be home, the dogs fell on the Costco-sized bag of Munchie Mix and fell asleep there, waiting patiently for Eli to come home from school.


School pick up ensued, then playdates with friends, then dinner. It is cold and clear tonight, and I’m getting my hair cut tomorrow and all’s well that ends well.

(Notes from Eli after viewing: i love your story! thank you for posting that story!)
(Notes from Arlo: your story is great and I really liked the pictures!)

Thanks guys. Best kids ever. Also, turns out Black Eyed is actually named Super No Name.

House Pants, Revisited

Several years ago, for my birthday, my mother wanted to buy me some nice yoga pants. We went to the Lululemon factory outlet store (don’t google, it no longer exist) and I tried on a lot of different pants and observed that their pants give everyone The Toe (you know the kind I mean. The camel kind). I chose a pair of non-stretchy, more-like-harem pants in the biggest size they had, which was 12, and we moved on with our lives. That was FOUR YEARS AGO! also an Olympic year.

Oh how I grew to love those pants. They were comfortable, non-binding, airy and light. I did not wear them to exercise, but around the house. I called them My House Pants and when I came home from anywhere, even the park, I put on my House Pants and I was home. Even when — especially when? — stay at home parenting is your full time job, it’s important to divide the day into work and not work. Or some other fuzzy line that everyone can place for him or herself.

In the Fall of 2013, I washed my house pants and the elastic waistband didn’t dry properly or in enough time or something and it took on a funk. The smell of mildew, or clothes-that-sit-around-too-long-in-the-washer. I washed them several times, used vinegar, pine-sol, stain remover, magic voodoo sauce, to no avail. The waistband of my favourite pants smelled bad. And no, the waistband is not near my face, but it is the only part of the house pants that touched my body, so my body’s heat would sometimes activate the smell and then I would get a whiff that was bad and you know, house pants are for RELAXING, not making you feel bad about your smell.

I kept them in the drawer for a while and then, recently, I gave them away, rationalizing that maybe some other genius person in the world would be able to get the smell out, or maybe a person who has no sense of smell could buy them and enjoy them, since they were otherwise in fantastic shape, having only really been worn around the, you know, HOUSE for four years.

This left me with a lack of house pants and this was sad, especially as it is winter, the season when we most need house pants.

I purchased some tights on a whim and they have worked out great as running tights but they are not so comfortable for lounging around the house.

I purchased some cheap flowy-style yoga-ish pants but they are shiny fabric’d and remind me of Elvis and have no pockets.

I have been wearing flannel polka-dot pyjama pants but the waist is held by a ribbon and it’s always coming undone and also they have no pockets.


Yesterday my mother called me.

“I was given some yoga pants,” she said. “They are too long for me. Would you like them?”

Leaving aside the question of who gives another person yoga pants (except I know you’re curious, so the answer is: the friend of my mother’s who is a relative of someone who works in or near a yoga pant factory) I had the feeling these pants would work for me. She described them as harem-style, with an elastic waist, and pockets, and drawstring around the ankles. It was too much to hope that they would be the same style as my dearly beloved and recently so stinky house pants but hope I did because what is a life without hope.

Today, my mother met me at the mall and we had coffee and shopped for things and she gave me the house pants and THEY ARE NEARLY* EXACTLY THE SAME.

*they are pleated and I think they might be a size 10 (there is no label) and the inseam is shorter than the old house pants but other than that, they are the same. Same! Same! Pants!

It was an average, ordinary day, and then my new house pants came home.

Here is a picture of my trying to show you my pants. In the House kind of yoga this pose is called “teenage flamingo.”


Happy New Year My Pretties

I’m not sure if you noticed but it’s 2014 now. We’re three days in. The other day Arlo told me his favourite numbers are seventeen and twenty-two. Eli likes twenty-three and …I forget the other. I like nines and seventeens myself. Not fond of the number 4. That this year ends with a four and that it is also my fourtiesthhh birthday in a month makes me kind of cringe but then I was born in a year that ends with four so what the hell is my problem. At some point you have to make peace with the number you hate. #sobernod

There are a lot of lessons all around me, all the time. For seven years I was a mother (um, I still am) and that was full of lessons. Now I am a part-time worker in an environment that is challenging and if I tell you that it’s full of lessons imagine a small car crammed so full of balloons you can’t even drive and you just sit and laugh and laugh until the force of your laughter causes some of the balloons to pop and then you pull out of your parking spot and drive away. Every time I go to work I am challenged in some other part of my brain and personality. Mostly it is not challenging in an intellectual way any more; I have started to grasp the wheres and hows of the work.

Well kind of. It is the government, which means nothing is what it seems and information is either from 2001 or hidden down rabbit holes that you can’t access from your computer because that website is forbidden.

But now I am dealing with the emotional or interpersonal challenges, such as the person I work with who is just really the opposite of me entirely, for which I can neither fault her nor embrace her. The lessons I’m learning are of this nature: you can’t change peoples’ minds about you, when you smile larger you look friendlier, be yourself no matter what they say, let it go, let it go, let it go. I have always had trouble letting things go, not all things but the things that bother me. Of course. Holding on to things is how we remember them and how we remember is how we know who we are. I guess. But holding on to things that are hurtful or mystifying or debilitating causes me stress. Going over and over and over things in my head only makes me feel more hamster-like, and that makes me not sleep, not want to go to work, not want to do anything but tear tissues to shreds and panic. And it makes me grumpy. And when I’m grumpy and stressed I can’t learn because my brain shuts off the part of it that learns, and then I make more mistakes which incurs the correction of the person I work with which makes me feel worse and then I keep replaying how I could have done it differently and look how long this sentence is YOU GUYS I am the poster-girl for letting go.

You know how people choose words for the year and then try to – I don’t know – focus? on the words or make themselves work around the words, well I’ve never really been able to do that (don’t fact-check me, I didn’t go looking and it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if I did in fact try to choose a word one year and then abandon it) because one word for a whole year feels kind of impossible. Yes, the newness of January makes it easy to focus on the word but what about when the norovirus hits and your family is out for three weeks and you don’t even remember what it is to have clean armpits, what of your word then? FORGOTTEN. Unless your word is forget.

Over the Christmas holidays I found myself tied up in knots about things and it occurred to me that my word, or guiding principle if you prefer, might need to be RELEASE. In part because LET GO is two words unless you write it LETGO which is good but kind of urgent and reminiscent of LEGO, whereas RELEASE has two meanings; verb and noun, and it just sounds nice. RELEASE. When I say it to myself I unclench my fists, I stretch out my jaw, I smile widely no matter how silly I look, I cast my mind to other places. I send the hamster wheel of ridiculous analysis off spinning into space where it can wheel and spin forever for all I care, and I think about something else instead. Like how much I like the sound of RELEASE. A new lease. Freedom from the perception that anything I do can make a difference to how another individual perceives me. I AM ME. And that is all.

Ninety-Seven — Work Day

“You’re so quiet,” say the people at work.
“Am I?” I ask. “Should I be hollering?”
“Yes!” they say. “You should!”

There is a woman who works in the office and she is so loud I can hear her coming from the parking lot. Last week she was in a room that shares a wall with my desk. She was photocopying, or trying to. She doesn’t usually photocopy things.

“GODDAMN IT!” I heard. I moved my papers around on my desk and smiled a little.
“MOTHER FUUUUCKER! COME ON! COME ON!” She banged something. The copier rattled churlishly.

If I could type in something louder than all caps, I would. She’s that loud.

I love that it’s acceptable to shout swear words in the office where I work. I’ll probably hold my tongue for another month or so, if only because the paper I have to move around requires all my concentration at the moment, but knowing that letting a curse word slip free will endear me to rather than estrange me from the people I work with goes a long way to making me feel comfortable and like I have found a place I could stay a while.

Ninety-Five — Conversations

This morning I walked the kids to school and then dropped by the office to fill out a volunteer form so I could accompany Eli’s kindergarten class to the grocery store for a field trip. The office secretary was giving out late slips and it was lovely to hear her greet each late child by name. There is a sadness inherent in chronic tardiness, isn’t there? Then I get over that sadness. It’s elementary school, not a Canadian dysfunctional novel. All is probably well.

One girl came in and the secretary said she looked tired.
“Oh yes,” the girl said. “I was up until ONE AM.”
“My,” said the secretary.
“I have so many things on the weekends,” said the girl. “Dance, soccer, Bulgarian school…”

Her eyes were wide. She didn’t look tired to me. I wasn’t buying it. Some kids like having lots of activities. Some kids can’t tell time. Some kids just like people to feel sorry for them.

The walk to the grocery store was illuminating. The little girl walking in front of me told me all about her visiting grandparents, her younger sibling, and that she was sick actually. Right then. Today.

“I am so sick,” she said.
“Oh that’s too bad,” I said. To be polite, I asked, “Do you have a cough, or a stuffy nose?”
“I’m just sick sick sick,” she went on. “But still I have to come to school. And now [sibling A] and [sibling B] will get sick.”
“The more kids you have in your house, the sicker everyone will be,” I agreed.

We left it at that.

The grocery store field trip was a nutrition teaching expedition. Nutritionists took the children in two groups through the store and explained the Canada Food Guide and its rainbow of suggested food servings.

Mostly the kids were fascinated by the demonstration glass of milk. They all tapped it and marvelled that you could turn it over and nothing happened. It didn’t spill. MAGIC.

In the cereal aisle the children sat on the floor and learned how much fibre is needed in a serving of cereal to make it healthy (5g or more) and how much sugar (7g or less). A man who was going to shop down that aisle stopped short and asked me what was going on. He had a baguette tucked under his arm.

“They’re a kindergarten class,” I said, “learning about how to eat good food.”
“In the CEREAL aisle?” he scoffed.
“Um, yeah, they’re talking about breakfast,” I said.
“Sure, I get it,” he said and walked away.

You get it? What? Big Froot Loop rides again? Innocent children being brainwashed into thinking breakfast cereal might be an option as a food item? Way to stick it to The Man, baguette-eater.

Some days uptown New Westminster just has a lot more going on. Today was one of those days. Each corner of 6th & 6th had a strange looking person standing on it, someone grey-faced or slouching, someone with a hand shoved at a strange angle inside a jacket pocket. Someone with slightly outside-the-lines lipstick. A woman with a toddler-aged grandchild in a stroller was cooing, “Some-one is all poooopy..” while she waited for the light to change. A man with an artificial-looking beard asked me for change.

In the Most Depressing Mall in the Universe, where I went to buy lip balm at the drug store, a man followed me down the hall from the bathroom, his feet sounding alarmingly quick behind me. He wanted to ask how tall I was.

“Five foot ten,” I said. “Goodbye.”

Later, the kids had a friend over and they watched a video on youtube. Then another, and another. It was “American Girl,” at some point, a new pop song. I watched them closely as they watched, and I heard the following conversation:

(after a closeup of the three women in the video from behind)

“The camera just totally zoomed in on their BUTTS! Why did it DO that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Hey, that’s a nice car.”
“I like that guy’s tattoo. That’s really cool.”
“I think it’s a Mustang…”
“Hey she’s stealing his car!”
“She’s totally stealing it!”
“I don’t want to watch this anymore.”

I heard this song by J. Roddy Walston and the Business in the car this evening and had to wait until it was done to turn off the engine. This love is subject to revision.

Ninety-Three — Grateful

Yesterday I took the boys to a Rock And Gem Show in nearby Port Moody. They went bananas for all the pretty rocks and gems. Eli scored a teeeny tiny emerald and Arlo convinced me to lend him enough money to buy a very hardcore necklace with a sword and skull pendant.

“What kind of gem is this?” he asked the woman whose booth it was.
“Oh that’s just glass, honey,” she said, “but the sword is real pewter.”

We came home with cloth “grab bags” full of polished and unpolished stones for two dollars each and the joy of the grab bag came back to me with a whoomp, like a strong gust of wind. I used to buy grab bags for two dollars at Shopper’s Drug Mart when I was a kid. They were paper bags with random cosmetics in them and it was so exciting to pull the staples out of the top of the bag, unfold it, and see the surprise.

This morning, Arlo informed me he wanted to go to the beach with a hammer and safety glasses so he could look for gold. What could I say — the sun was shining and it was a warm day. We grabbed our hammer and an old pair of sunglasses of mine and drove across the bridge to the beach at Port Royal in Queensborough. I had never been there but had heard it was a Best Kept Secret of the City so a quick google found me all the information I needed.

The kids smashed rocks and splashed around in the Fraser River. A big dog — husky, malamute? — came down to the beach and dug himself a hole almost his own size. He smelled something good down there. Every time his minder tried to fill in the hole with sand, he gave her a dirty look and recommenced digging. His fat, white paws were a flurry.

He never did find what he was looking for. #sadbono

Clusters of ducks swam by, using the river current to their advantage, looking like they were swimming on fast forward.

A flock of geese flew overhead. It was blindingly sunny and warm. My sinuses felt clear. I felt rested, finally, after days of feeling tired.

Today I’m grateful for space and time. Time to make space: ridding our house of bags of old clothes, overdue library books, overflowing compost. Time to make food that is delicious and time to wash up after myself so there is more space on the kitchen counter and I don’t feel like I’m drowning in pots and pans. Time to make space on my bookshelf for five new library books, to dig out all the many blue spiral bound notebooks I’ve been collecting and take them upstairs so that when I look at the shelf, I only see the story revisions I’m working on right now. Space to find time to work. Time to stretch and put the spaces back between my vertebrae so I feel long and loose, not hunched and achy.

Time and space, sunshine and clear sinuses. I don’t ask for much.

Ninety-Two — The Day He Had Popcorn Chicken

Today is a Pro D day. No school for anybody. I arranged to have the day off. We stayed in our pyjamas, played some Minecraft (the kids) and wrote in our journals (me) and drank coffee (me again) and then we played Angry Birds the Physical Game where you make towers and then launch plastic birds via catapult. We listened to music and looked at books. We made a card for Arlo’s friend whose birthday party was today, and then we got ready and left the house. At TEN FIFTEEN AM. Sigh. So awesome.

The amount of time we have hasn’t changed. There are still 24 hours in a day, but something about the way the days are configured makes it feel like less. There are days when it feels like I’m hurrying all the time, days when the hours fly by. There hasn’t been a day in a long time where I looked at the clock and said, “Oh, is it ONLY X:OO?” Lately, it’s always later than I think, which leads to that sinking feeling, that “Where is it all going?” panic.

It’s all connected — seasons changing, fog rolling in, general malaise.

This week I was sick, too, so I spent three days feeling awful, two days working and feeling less awful, all those days feeling like I’d never get caught up on MY TIME MY TIME. I was sick enough that I couldn’t even make a convincing argument for doing anything. I just wanted to sit around, go to bed early, sleep longer. I still do, actually. My sinuses feel weird. I’m suspicious.

This morning, we dropped Arlo at the birthday party at a lazer tag place and then Eli and I went on to Superstore to buy Halloween candy and a few groceries. I offered to buy Eli lunch at the mall and he chose his favourite food court food: KFC popcorn chicken and fries. I had amazing fried rice and stir-fried vegetables and ginger pork. So salty. Salty enough that my eyes started to itch. Fast food, huh? Salty.

We did some walking around the mall, as I am on my annual fruitless quest for a jacket. We went into a store and the sales girl said, “Is there something in particular you are looking for?” Ordinarily I would say no thank you but the way she asked, it sounded like she really wanted to know, and since there is something in particular I am looking for, I said, “I want a jacket, but not a cropped denim jacket. And not a moto jacket. And not a parka. And I don’t need a fur-lined hood, even if it’s fake fur. And no belts. And no quilting.”

(She was very sorry she had asked. She will likely be revising her question to the standard, “Let me know if I can help you find something today.”)

Eli is super helpful as a shopper’s assistant because he knows I hate fake pockets. He went through all the jackets and tested them out.

“FAKE POCKETS,” he announced whenever he found some. “HOW LAME IS THAT.”

He got a few laughs and I could browse unmolested. Wins all over.

I realized as we walked that I hadn’t hung out with Eli at the mall (or anywhere, really) in a very long time. We used to go all the time, on the days he wasn’t in preschool, or on sick days. Just walking around like all the other people who need a place to walk around inside. Standing in the toy aisle, looking at toys. It’s been months since I hung out in a toy aisle.

(The toys haven’t changed much.)

As we made our way back to the car to go pick up Arlo, I noticed Eli still had the paper bag the popcorn chicken had been in.

“Should we look for a garbage can?” I asked.

“No, I’m keeping it,” he said. “It’s my precious memory of the day I had popcorn chicken.”

(awwww, right? Awww.)

More to the point, it was evidence to show his brother.

“What? You had POPCORN CHICKEN?” Arlo sputtered.


“Well…I guess I did get to play lazer tag and eat pizza and cheezies and cake.”

I didn’t have to say a word. They are self-parenting. It feels like I’ve done enough work for now. I plan to drink tea and lounge on the couch resting my eyes and sinuses for the rest of the day.

Eighty-Seven — The Other Side

Starting work hit like a hammer to the shoulderblades. The night before I was all excited like when you go on vacation and you pack your bag and then unpack it and repack it forty times and check where your passport is and keep moving it to different pockets in your bag and then freaking out because you check the first pocket and it’s not there! (WHY WOULD YOU MOVE IT? To stay one step ahead of pickpockets, I guess.)

I even slept crappily because that’s a thing I do now, I sleep crappily if there’s any stress in my life, especially if it’s the night before my period starts, so yay, now it’s 5:30 AM and I’m going to work for the first time in six years and I’m bleeding and I’m so tired. So tired. Send iron.

I am tired.

I am tired.

I went. Three days in a row. It was challenging, and good, and will be much harder than my last position, which is also good because at least I feel like I’m earning the money not stealing it.

Going out of the house for a few days and doing other stuff has made me appreciate my home and family even more. Magic. I walk in the house and I don’t even want to check my e-mail. I take off my shoes and roll around on the couch with my big, stinky kids.

He obliged me by for once keeping his tongue in his mouth.

He obliged me by for once keeping his tongue in his mouth.

Speaking of kids, they have reacted predictably; with aggression, random outbursts of tears, exhaustion, and in one child’s case, a throat-clearing tic that makes us feel all wall-climby. Ahem. Ahem. Ahem. Ahem. Ahem. Ahem. The first night we tried reasoning with him and telling him that really there was nothing in his throat that needed clearing and maybe he could dial it back a bit. He stared at us like we were the craziest ones yet. Then I googled “seven year old clearing throat” and discovered that it’s a thing people do when they’re anxious, and THEN I felt kind of like an asshole for saying anything. Over the weekend as we’ve all chilled back into our normal household routine, the throat-clearing has subsided. Kids are weird.

Hoist your pumpkins high, boys!

Hoist your pumpkins high, boys!

Speaking of assholes, this evening I had the following conversation with Eli:

E: Mommy do you know what the B WORD is?
Me: Baloney?
E: No, the BAD B word.
Me: Buh..buh..oh. Does it rhyme with witch?
E: Yeah.
Me: Yeah I know it. Do you know what it means?
E: No.
Me: It means two things. A female dog is called a bitch…
E: Huh
Me: ..and when someone is acting mean, sometimes people call them a bitch. Usually women. It’s really not a nice word.
E: Sometimes you act mean.
Me: Yes, it’s true.
E: Should I call you a bitch?
Me: No, you should not. It’s not nice. It would be like if I called you an asshole.
E: (gasp) You said the A WORD!
Me: Yes I did.

Now we all know where we stand.