Tag Archives: awesome

Eighty-Three — The Clean Trampoline

This morning I woke up to the sound of Eli talking in his very excited voice. His very excited voice is loud enough to penetrate floors. It was only 6:30 so I was unsure what he was excited about. I put a pillow over my head and tried to enter more gently into the day.

Later, after Arlo and I had dropped Eli at school (Arlo took a sick day for his stuffed up nose), I mentioned that after school today, Eli was having his first ever playdate with a friend from his kindergarten class.

“Oh I know,” Arlo said. “He was cleaning the playroom this morning before you got up. He was WIPING the trampoline. He wants everything to look nice for Kindergarten Friend.”

Being a younger brother surrounded by kids your older brother’s age means you don’t get your own playdates much. Eli had a few friends at preschool but when they came over, their mothers came too, or we met them at the playground or park.

The after-school play is a different animal and a wonderful thing. It’s an extension of school and the independence that school fosters. It also feels spontaneous and exciting, like an unexpected treat. Even if the two parents are busy planning via email or text or phone calls, to the kid it feels like “I had this great idea! Can I come over?” and “OMG Totally! Yes!” It’s one of the things I am so grateful for in our neighbourhood — that we live walking distance from the school and from so many of the other kids at school. It feels very comfortable, very like my own childhood, very *not* like media tells us Kids Are Today. Almost all the kids I know are just like the ones I grew up with BUT I DIGRESS.

For Arlo in kindergarten, the concept of an after school playdate without me or Eli being there was totally foreign. I had to stay with him for the first few, making sometimes awkward small-talk with the other parent, and then he was good — going with whoever was inviting him, scarcely waving goodbye. There were many days when Eli and I would trudge up the hill to meet Arlo after school, only to see him invited to someone’s house. Then we would trudge back down the hill, Arlo-less, lonely, saddened. “You’ll get to have playdates too,” I would say. “You’ll go to school and have friends of your own.”

And of course, when we had Arlo’s friends to our house, Eli was often shut out or had to play The Bad Guy in the endless games of Good vs. Evil. “But I’m NOT BAD!” he would holler, “I wanna be GOOD TOO!” Oh, three and four year old Eli, I don’t so much miss you.

Today’s playdate with Kindergarten Friend was a big deal, I’m saying. He wanted that trampoline SPOTLESS.

He and Kindergarten Friend ran down the hill home and stopped at all the corners very safely. At our house, Eli stopped at the door.

“Kindergarten Friend, you can put your shoes here.”

KF nodded. “Can I take off my socks?” he asked me. “Sure if you want,” I said. He wanted.

“This is the kitchen. And that’s the bathroom,” Eli went on, “We have another one upstairs. And one in my mom and dad’s room but we can’t go up there. Come on!”

They went all over the house, Eli with his hand outstretched like a real estate agent.

As you can see, it’s open plan…nine foot ceilings…

And then the usual: crackers and peanut butter, grapes and juice. A bit of video games, a bit of sword play, a discussion about whose toys were whose. A very civilized discussion, for five year olds.

Overall and so far, Eli’s transition to kindergarten has been much smoother than Arlo’s. In retrospect this makes sense, though I always expect the worst, that I may be pleasantly surprised. It’s heartening to see Eli make his own friends and find his own way.

(Even if the path was cleared of brambles by his older brother. I’m sure he’ll say thank you to Arlo for that someday.)

Eighty-One — One Week

This week was only four days long because Monday was a professional day. At first I was upset about this because MY TIME MY TIME but by last night I realized that if this week had had five school days in it, we would all be biting each other right now. Yes. You and me and the kids and that guy over there. Everyone. Biting. Because we are all so tired.

This post was going to have pictures, but then when I looked at the pictures from the week there weren’t any, so you’ll just have to imagine all the pictures in your head. Web 1.0.

Last night we went to the elementary school to meet Arlo’s teacher and see his classroom. There was a welcome back barbecue before meet the teacher but we declined because the barbecue is disgusting and now that we’re at grade two, I refuse to eat more gross burgers. NEVER AGAIN. I made the mistake of being honest with Arlo when he asked why we weren’t going to the barbecue and then I heard him telling someone else that, “[my] mom doesn’t like the food very much” so I should probably watch my mouth? Although I have asked several people in the past week if they planned to go to the barbecue and they all made the ick face and said no, so I think the gross burger is a widely acknowledged thing, which makes me wonder why they don’t switch to a better burger? And before you can say it, no I will not be sitting on the PAC and suggesting the better burger. Thanks.

Anyway, after meeting the teacher there was playground playing and then we the Adults were tired and wanted to come home and the children wept bitterly because they NEVER GET TO PLAY THERE and I pointed out that they do, actually, every day, sometimes more than once, and Eli said BUT NOT IN THE EVENING and he had a point but still, we dragged them home, tired and tireder, from all the playing and learning of three days of school.

This morning, Eli was sad before 8:30 am because his lip was chapped. And then he said his feet hurt. And then Arlo said his ankle hurt. And then they just stood in the kitchen staring at me, yawning.

“Put your shoes on, please,” I said.

“How much..how..how much..is a PSP [Playstation Portable game playing thingee, which he is determined to buy himself]?” asked Arlo, not putting his shoes on.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Put your shoes on, please.”

“Can you look it up on the Internet?”

“Sure, while you’re at school I’ll do that. But before you go to school you have to put your shoes on.”

Arlo took a deep breath and sighed the kind of sigh people sigh when they are hoping you will notice they are sighing.

I ignored him.

He sighed again.

I became amused and laughed a little, the kind of laugh where you just exhale really hard and then it’s a laugh and it surprises you so you keep laughing.

“Why are you laughing?”

(And you can’t stop. Because you’re tired.)


“I..because…I’m imagining you guys…as kittens,” I said. This is not as random as it seems; we had been talking about cats a few minutes earlier.

Eli laughed too. Because: kittens! Haaa ha ha.

Arlo kept sighing.

“Put your shoes on, please,” I said.

So he did.

The walk to school was slow and complainish, but when I met them after, they were roaringly happy. One more successful week, filed away. OK, there was one good picture.

Friday the 13th walk to school.

Friday the 13th walk to school.

Seventy-Nine — Sweet Relief

Today was a gift.

We all woke up happy and mostly healthy. It was sunny, but not blisteringly hot, and there was a bit of that edgy September morning chill. I made Arlo oatmeal and Eli drank a glass of milk and I had coffee and wrote in my journal out on the porch. I had remembered to move the chair cushion last night so it wouldn’t get wet from the sprinkler that goes off every morning at four o’clock. It’s taken me all summer to remember to do that.

“Can you play Monopoly?” Eli asked me while I was packing lunches.
“I’m packing your lunch,” I replied.
“Am I going to SCHOOL TODAY?” he asked.
“ALL DAY! FINALLY!” he said.


Also that’s as many words as he’s uttered at one time since last Sunday.

At 8:45 we got backpacks on and walked to school. My tank top was a bit optimistic, a bit more yesterday’s weather but it was a refreshing walk. We were caught up to by the neighbour kid and his mom and we walked companionably to school, the mom and I talking about resort vacations and the kids talking about whatever they talk about. Minecraft, poop, Lego.

The bell rang and Arlo went off to his classroom. I walked Eli to the kindergarten door and gave him a hug. “Bye,” he said. Parents were hanging around the door, peeking in the window, but I resisted the urge and walked away. Back down the hill, alone, carrying nothing but my keys.

It was 9:05 and I had five blessed solitary hours stretched ahead of me like an empty road. This was it, the moment I’d been waiting for for five years. Five years of spending all day every day with two small children and here we are, down to none. Not even a cat to bug me. (sniff)

I went for a run. I came home. I showered and stretched and folded some clothes and put them away. I made myself a smoothie out of a banana, some blueberries, some pineapple coconut water and the remains of my morning coffee. It tasted vaguely like a fruit mocha and was not as horrible as it might sound. I read things on the Internet. I tweeted. I went to Safeway and the liquor store and the vegetable market. I had lunch and read some more things on the Internet. I washed dishes and free-wrote for ten minutes and ate black licorice and did a load of laundry.

I walked in a most leisurely fashion back to the school and at 2:00 the door opened and Eli came out. He pulled his spare underwear out of his backpack, put it on his head and ran around the kindergarten playground with a few other kids. Then we hung out in the big playground for a while, because the big kids didn’t get out of school until 3:00. He found a cool caterpillar and played with two boys from his class.

After the bell, and Arlo joined us, we stayed at the school and played until nearly five o’clock. The weather returned from warm to September chill and I had trouble finding sunny spots to stand in. Two parent friends and I stood around and chatted while the kids played the kind of game you store in your head as a rebuttal for when people say kids don’t know how to play any more. Something about leaves as money and other leaves as taxes. There was robbery and tax evasion and restitution paid.

Reluctantly, we came home, had ice cream, then dinner, then more ice cream and now I’m having beer, and I want to say Thank You Friday, for being the day I spent this whole week wishing I could have.


Summer is ovvvvvver guys, over. OVER. This is it. School kind of* starts on Tuesday.



* Tuesday is a 45 minute day and Eli doesn’t start at all until September 9th

To celebrate, today we did many fun things: we spent the whole day with two of Arlo and Eli’s closest friends, went swimming (indoors, because it was cold and rainy), had Happy Meals at the World’s Loudest McDonald’s, Eli ate his first tooth, and then we played in the playground.

Swimming was great! The kids practised jumping off the diving board and I got stuck in the pool.

My wrist has been sore if I try to put my weight on my hand. I forgot this and tried to climb out of the pool by pushing myself out on my hands? You know how you do? Hands on the pool deck and .. push yourself out? Except then my wrist gave out and to compensate I twisted my hip or something and gave myself a weird thigh cramp. So there I was, helplessly hanging on to the edge of the pool, unable to climb out, going “ow, ow, ow” while my kid is applying a life jacket and preparing to dive in. This toddler girl was on the ladder and I needed the ladder and she stared at me while I said “ow ow ow” and of course this paralyzed her so she wouldn’t move and I couldn’t get out until she moved but she was scared to move.

This is the good wrist, but it looks much like the bad one.

This is the good wrist, but it looks much like the bad one.

Spoiler: I got out of the pool.

The World’s Loudest McDonald’s was one of those ones where there’s an indoor playground but it’s in a room and people eat in the room with the playground and there were children screaming, like, the kind of screaming where you turn around with your eyes all wild, looking for the person who made THAT NOISE so you can pull out their tongue and barbecue it while they watch. When we entered the room, a man who was leaving muttered, “NOW you’re in for it,” at me, so that was accurate foreshadowing.

Arlo + hexbug on his eye.

Arlo + hexbug on his eye.

While we were eating, Eli mentioned that he’d bit his tooth and it really hurt. I thought nothing of it, this is after all a child who once described the symptoms of hand, foot and mouth virus as “my throat intestines hurt.” Shortly before he wanted to go join the screaming screamathon in the scream pit, I noticed a giant bloody hole in his mouth and yes, he had in fact lost and eaten his first tooth.

"My mouth feels weird."

“My mouth feels weird.”

The weird thing is that even though he’s five and a half (roughly) and the same age Arlo was when he lost his first tooth, Eli is totally NOT OLD ENOUGH to lose a tooth. Nuh uh.

There was not enough playing and way too much screaming so we left the WLMcD’s and went to the school playground by our house, where the children started to show signs of exhaustion but continued to run around some and then at 4 pm we came home.

I am so tired. But in the best way. Good summer, y’all.

End of summer portrait, boys having traded clothes.

End of summer portrait, boys having traded clothes.

Sixty-Five — Things I Saw

I take a two block walk to Safeway to buy milk. I pass a screaming infant in black stroller, hungry, freaking out, its minders chatting about frequency of screams, intent. I remember walking with baby Arlo, having to stop in the uptown park to feed him on a dirty, bird-pooped bench surrounded by old, leering men because he wouldn’t stop being hysterical and the need for him to stop being hysterical overrode my own need to not nurse my baby on a dirty, bird-pooped bench. My reward: he slept the rest of the walk home.

An old couple on a bench, slouching against each other, their feet touching.

Three young boys on bicycles, whipping wind behind them as they tear up the path around the park.

Teenage girls doing soccer drills, stepping like show horses around cones, passing the ball. Their pony-tails swish just like actual pony’s tails.

The air smells like barbecued things, lavender, cigarette and marijuana smoke. It’s the still, warm air of a summer evening before the sun goes down.

Two men do synchronized lunge-squats across the field, drop to their fists and do push-ups, then alternate squats–one up, one down, so they resemble those pop-up toys the kids used to play with.

A man and his dog, one of them bored, the other thrilled. A man and his gangly middle-school son. The son has a basketball, the man is distracted. A car pulls up and parks, the driver talks on the phone, blows smoke out his window, the engine is still running, the stereo is playing.

An SUV the size of a tank drives by, the small driver has big sunglasses and holds an iPhone aloft.

A different baby is taken out of its stroller, its screams muffled against an adult’s shoulder.

Milk, limes, cross the street again, around the park again, there are boys playing basketball, girls lying on the grass, knees bent, talking and texting, and then I’m home.


My family is away tonight. SA has taken the kids to camp in a field in Aldergrove for the annual Perseid Meteor Shower Star Party.

This is the third year they’ve gone. Last year both kids went but the year before only Arlo went and Eli refused to sleep because his brother wasn’t home. Better they both go, that they all might have questionable sleep. I will definitely sleep beyond awesomely.

That sounds selfish because it is. I can try to justify it six ways to Sunday (father/son bonding time! astronomy isn’t my bag! I have a headache!) and all those ways are true but at the core of it is this truth:

I am in a pig’s muddy glory spending the night and morning by myself.

The night is one thing. They left at 6 pm and I have eaten disgusting canned chili for dinner while watching Orange is the New Black. Then I washed all the dishes, put on some PJ Harvey and had a long, uninterrupted telephone conversation. Now I am having a beer, even though it is 9:33, aka my usual bedtime, and listening to all the PJ Harvey again because it’s that good.

(It’s been twenty years since Rid of Me came out. I was nineteen years old. Coincidentally? I got a text message this evening from the guy I was dating in 1994 and he’s in town so we’re going to have breakfast tomorrow. Don’t worry, it’s not a rom-com sort of breakfast where I realize the mistake I made not marrying him. It’s more just to see what a 47 year old ex boyfriend looks like and maybe eat some bacon.)

Anyway, it’s been a damn fine evening by my current standards. I could have done other things, gone places, called people and met up with them. I didn’t want to. I could have written great works of fiction and non. I did not. I’m cool with it.

The best part will be the morning. That’s when I will wake up at my leisure, come downstairs to find everything exactly as I left it the night before, and drink my coffee without first helping someone pour milk on their cereal. It seems like a little thing, but over years it swells to a big thing. A big, dumb thing that you don’t understand but you still acknowledge is in the room, infringing on your space. Tomorrow my space will be my own, for just a little while.

Sixty-Two — Things You Could Look At

God no, not sixty-two things you could look at. Five, I think.

From Schmutzie: A Love Letter to the Gentle People of the Internet: Please Don’t Go

From Sarah Selecky, about writing and blogging and self-criticism: Is it Good or Bad?

From Vice: The Ghost Rapes of Bolivia (that one is disturbing and horrible, and important)

From Prism Magazine: Writing prompts: How to Beat a Cliche and / or You Named Your Pony What?

And there is this:


Fifty-Eight — Repetition is Comedy. Or Not.

I went looking for something in my old blog last night and found a post I wrote three years ago on the same topic as a post I wrote just a few weeks ago. This unsettled me. It felt like I might be a boring old show pony with only three tricks. Neigh! It can’t be avoided, though, the concept of repetition, since I like to worry things until there is only the smallest chunk of bone left. I’ve apologized to my biographers several times in the past few years about how repetitive my journals are.

In other news, this evening 5 asked us to play some screamy music so I put on a System of a Down song he used to run around the house to last year. I followed it up with Ministry. I also took some video, and this is that. As you can see, Arlo got a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book from the library today. Also he’s not such a huge fan of screamy music.


I’ve been exploring mindfulness, thanks to the excellent website Raptitude and a particular post of his that explained how to stop worrying what people think of you. He (Raptitude’s David) refers to a book on mindfulness and meditation called “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” by Jon Kabat-Zinn which I immediately sought out at the library, despite the title which reminds me of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, which in turn reminds me that I used to be a person who cared so much what people thought of me that I sat through that whole movie. (I might have fallen asleep at some point.)

It’s an entrancing book. At first I had trouble jumping in but now I’ve made space for it in my day and I carry it around with me and one of the things Kabat-Zinn says is to resist the urge to talk about and analyze and brag about your mindfulness practise so I will not!

I have come to realize that writing is a manifestation of mindfulness for me, at least the writing I do in the morning, and in the past two months, the writing I do here. I expect nothing of either space other than that I should be able to occupy it until I am finished.

It’s why I keep coming back, I guess.

Eli found this balloon on the street today and brought it home. It's a fundamentally true balloon.

Eli found this balloon on the street today and brought it home. It’s a fundamentally true balloon.

Fifty-Three — Swimming, More, Again

Today was the last day of swimming lessons. Eli has been too concerned with his friend in the class with him (whose name, actually, is NOT “Sith” but we thought it was and we kind of thought that was a badass name) to fret much about doing what the instructor says. She actually came over to me on Wednesday, in an exact repeat of the last set of swimming lessons, and said “If he can show me he can put his whole head in the water, he’ll pass the level!” No submerge? NO PASS. Nothing had changed by 12:25 today, in large part because the more you tell Eli to do something the less he will consider doing it. The Eli Principle, I call it, though it is by no means unique to Eli. *ahem* Pot/kettle, etc.

Arlo, though, made an astounding breakthrough last weekend. On Sunday we went swimming recreationally, as a family, and SA was playing with the kids, making faces at them under water and making them duck down to see. Arlo did it a few times and something clicked. You could practically hear the click. Suddenly he was ducking and bobbing and trying to swim under the rope and showing me how he could sit on the bottom of the pool. Um. OK?

Compare: last Friday, when asked to put his head in the water, he dipped his chin in the water and then freaked out because he got some water on his lip too.
On Monday he was doing rocket kicks and propelling himself under water.
Today he spent fifteen minutes jumping off the edge of the pool, practising his cannonballs with his friend.

I was thinking about it this morning, how once you’ve learned to swim you don’t unlearn it, like learning to walk or talk. Brain injuries excepted. He will no more go back to being a flailing weirdo freak about water (exception: shower water) than he will go back to crawling as a mode of transportation. There he was, one moment a non-swimmer, the next a swimmer. These things happen so quickly after so much time. And so, a moment to mourn and celebrate that he’s one step closer to adulthood, one step farther from me.

And now: a glass of wine because one of my kids finally passed a swimming level.