I planned to post a picture today of Rocket in his Little Papi shirt, but soon after getting it on this morning, he threw up all over it, as I am sure many other Red Sox fans did as well last night. Kevin cleaned him up, but kept him in the shirt - you know, in the spirit of the day? - which I didn't realize until I got in the car and found that we were trapped with Rocket reeking of puke.
When I was a kid, my friends and I would love to ask each other "in a fire, if you could only save three things in your house, what would they be." I don't know why we considered this fun, but we did, imagining ourselves grabbing superficial things as we left the house. I think my Andy Gibb poster and 8-track tape player where my top concerns. One morning at about that same age, our smoke detector went off and I ran out of the house while still buttoning my pants, quickly deciding to brave a return trip into the house to save our canary. My mom saw me running out of the house with the bird cage, as she casually changed the smoke detector's battery, asking why I decided to save the bird instead of her or my baby sisters. She wasn't too happy with my answer, which was that I thought they should have been able to save themselves, but the bird, he was trapped.
We bought a house in the hills about three summers ago and since then plotting out my emergency plans is no longer a fun game of beat the clock, but a serious operation that I hope to never act out. The Southern California fires serves as another reminder that no matter that we cut the brush around our house and that we've taken other fire prevention precautions, strong, hot winds and bad luck can change our lives in an instant.
I've worked out two fire evacuation plans: one if my husband is home and the other if he is at work. Of course, my two kids are the top priority, followed by our dogs. Then it comes down to whether we have time to pack or not. I have two plastic tubs ready to be filled with pictures, memory cards and some treasured items belonging to my grandmother. Yet this week, I've been bothered by the bigger, unanswerable questions, which are: which way out, depending upon which of the narrow roads around us are open; and where will we go, depending upon where else the fire has spread. If the region is engulfed, I really don't want to end up at Candlestick (Monster) Park.
At home during the dry months, the sound of sirens sends my heart racing. Summer lightening storms are no longer fun either. I have a friend in Los Angeles who has packed up twice, both times unnecessarily, but she said it didn't hurt to be ready to leave within a moment's notice. There have been a few times when fire trucks have raced by our house and I've thought about throwing things in the car, even without knowing to what kind of call the trucks were responding. They could be going to save a cat stuck up a tree, but I'm ready to abandon our house.
The start of the rainy season always brings some relief, but that brings another concern: mudslides. Maybe my planning should start with a prescription of Xanax.
His first pair of Crocs arrived last night. They make him look like a Keebler elf and they're a little big - the size 4/5s were tight, but the 6/7s are roomier than I'd like. By noon today, I must have picked them up at least six or seven times after they had fallen off. By 1 p.m., I gave up. Maybe really thick socks will help.
I don't think I am ever going to be able to breathe freely again. This cold has gone on for so long that I am losing hope. I blow my nose and I can't tell if it caused my ears to clog or unclog. Even my dreams have gotten boring: in one dream, I drove back and forth between destinations all day (which is how I feel I spend most days) and in another, Rocket finally spoke, saying a full sentence, and I responded with a cool "So you can speak. Now I don't need to worry." I am in a malaise, I guess. Every day is go, go, GO! and I just realized that this is how things will be until these kids go off to college. In the meantime, I wish they would sleep in on the weekends, but that seems to be too much to ask. I already dread the upcoming time change, the one I used to love, "fall back," with it's extra hour to lounge around. My lounging days are far gone.
We had our first parent-teacher conference at Clover's school, which was long and very in depth partially because this is a no grades/report card school. We learned that Clover holds her pencil properly, but a little tightly and the teacher suggested how we can help work on this with her because when the day comes that she has to write a lot, her hand is going to cramp up if she continues with the tight hold. Rocket and I went to the teacher's supply store this morning to buy some grips for Clover and as I tried them out, I decided to buy one for myself. I just hope she isn't as uptight as I am, but I think the gene has already found her.
I wrote out Clover's birthday invitations this year for the first time ever. We usually have them printed, but we found some fun ones on sale in Hawaii that matched her theme, so I bought them. Speaking of which, is this woman a little too sexy for a five year old's invitation?
Back to the writing - my hand was getting tired at the half way mark, which made me realize the apple does not fall far from the tree: I grip way too hard. Last week I was also told that while my knitting is excellent, I also knit too tightly. The downside being that it is more difficult to reduce stitches and that maybe these hats I'm making are going to give me carpal tunnel. But I still think my knit is superior, which makes it hard to relax my hands as I go.
See? Sweater quality, I say!
Jumping way back now to Rocket's not speaking. He can speak some words, he just doesn't. I am taking this as a sign of security because he is best at yelling "mama!" when I am not around, which is pretty rare. I ask him questions. I repeat words slowly and make him look at my mouth. Neither Clover nor I talk for him much. He is just quiet, I guess, because every once in a while, he'll say a word clearly and appropriately, so he can talk, he just chooses not to. It is just getting weird for me. I am ready for him to really talk.
Yesterday a little girl his age decided Rocket was her guy. She kissed him all over and hugged him repeatedly. He stood frozen each time, but he followed her around, so he must have enjoyed her a little. When it was time for her to leave, she gave him a big hug from behind, but then grabbed his shirt and tried to take him home with her. That is when he looked at me, said "ma!" and (fake) cried. Mama's boy?
This morning - schooled in the girl affection thing - he went up to a different girl his age and moved in like he was going to kiss her (he is an awkward, open mouth kisser, much like his father was when I found him nine years ago today, coincidentally) and then he paused, waiting for the girl to do the rest (again, not unlike his father). She just watched him cautiously, by the way, prompting Rocket to step back and gently pet her. Now he is on his way to being the ladies' man of the playground. The strong, very silent type.
Catching up after a vacation and a sickness takes as long as the vacation and the sickness, I've found. I cleaned, organized, written checks and now feel somewhat on top of things. As I was writing the checks, I realized I should have been a miserly accountant for a tight company a la Scrooge because I hate sending money out. I hated writing the annual life insurance check especially because hopefully we will never need it, so should we really bother? It is almost a month of tuition.
Rocket pestered me as I tried to get things organized by repeatedly bringing me this huge book that he loves. I think it is the First 100 Vehicles Book or something like that and it is about 10 pages of boat, car, truck, construction pictures. He flips the pages quickly and then walks away, leaving me with the book. When I set the book down and go back to what I was doing, he picks the book up and returns, grunting until I sit and read it again. This goes on all day. By Friday afternoon, I was threatening to throw the book outside into the rain, then run it over with my car three or four times. Patience is not my middle name.
This weekend we bought him some similar books, but they are small board books for variety and portability. He brought them home and shoved them under the couch, then brought out the old 100 vehicle book.
Highlighted this weekend was the need for Kevin to take a child first aid/CPR class. When we were in Hawaii, Rocket choked on something while I was in the shower. Kevin picked him up and ran to my sister, who is a daycare/preschool teacher. Within a second, Rocket had cleared his throat himself, but Kevin's panic was the talk of the trip. Out to dinner last night, Rocket started to choke on a tortilla chip fed to him by Kevin. I soon saw that the chip was lodged in Rocket's throat and he was struggling. I calmly told Kevin that Rocket was choking. He responded with "yes, but I don't know what to do about it." Okay then! Let's just let it go! It will solve itself! I barked to hand him to me, and as Kevin pulled him out of the high chair and jostled him toward me, Rocket projectile vomited all over the table. Then Kevin didn't seem to know how to handle the clean up, which was somewhat more distressing because they aren't going to cover that in a first aid class. The people at the table next to us passed over their napkins to help. It was embarrassing, but not for Rocket who wanted to keep eating now that his tummy was empty.
This morning as we got back into our weekly schedule, I stressed about the minutia of the week: the dentist, the teacher conference, the playdate in a tea house with Rocket tagging along making me think of the "bull in a china shop" saying. When we approached Clover's classroom, there was a note that a classmate's father had died. I got back in the car and cried. I had only met him once in September soon after he had a stroke but the prognosis was good. My heart breaks in a million pieces for the family. Suddenly the problems in my life were gone. I would gladly write that life insurance check again.
Rocket is poking me with his new book The Fire Engine Book. Time to read to my boy. Things are good.
Adding a play structure to our backyard would mean an occasional injury, I knew this before we put it in. I expected a hurt ankle or maybe even a broken wrist. What I did not expect was a reaming.
As I was helping Rocket walk up the slide at his insistence, Clover started to make her way down the rockwall using an unorthodox technique: she was facing away from the wall, holding the rope. I told her it was not a good idea. I told her it didn't look like she had control. Both comments were met with barking responses that it was a good idea and she was in control. So there! My back was turned as she started more of a slide down, rather than a climb. Suddenly she was screaming. I ran over as she grabbed her fanny. My first thought was splinter, but she was wearing clothes (and the manufacturer promises no splinters!). Clover had what appeared to be an atomic wedgie.
She howled, "my butt! my butt!" for all the neighbors to hear. Not that any were outside, but I was embarrassed anyway.
Clover said it wasn't the underwear that hurt, but the rubbery-plastic foot hold on the wall. Apparently she was sliding away and one of them went, well, almost up her ass. As I told her later, after I carried her in the house and she finally felt okay to sit down, it was a painful lesson to learn.
Finally, the stage of parenting and childhood that I have been waiting for is here. It wasn't the walking or the talking or even the first day I dropped my child off at school. I've been waiting for the day my child could write, but not spell well, leaving foreign-seeming notes and cards for me to stumble through to find the meaning. I could say that I enjoy this because I can actually see her learning and piecing sounds and letters together, but I like it because it is hilarious. If I received one of these notes from a native English speaking adult, I would be concerned, but from my four year old daughter, they are guaranteed to make me laugh.
Clover's notes are always in all caps and they don't always have much space between words, making it hard to tell when one word ends and another begins. Adding to the confusion is her resistance to using hyphens, which means it may appear that a word has ended, when really Clover felt she hit the margin and she continued the word down on the next line, optimistic her reader would follow along.
For instance, the other day I ran across this note:
I paused for a minute wondering "who is Muvda and what the hell is a ghog?" until I broke it down differently and read "move the hedgehog," which made more sense because it was taped to her inflatable Ikea hedgehog. It made me laugh out loud and not question why she spent more time and effort writing the note than simply moving the hedgehog by herself.
Instead of working to make her writing easier to understand, Clover has opted to make her printing "fancier." She often adds loops and swirls at the top and bottom of each letter to make them "prettier," when instead they add to the eye confusion. She wrote a note to a classmate that said "IMADTHISCARDFOURUTUDAY" (I made this card for you today), but with the fancy letters running into each other, I don't think the recipient had a shot at figuring it out.
Almost always, Clover's intended audience is her brother. She put two on her bedroom door reading "DONUTLEVEDATOYZUOT" (do not leave the toys out) and "PUTDATOYZBAK" (put the toys back), which I thought was encouraging. Here she was reminding herself to clean up her mess. But no, my very messy girl was warning her brother to put back whatever he dare touches in her room, on the rare occasions she lets him touch one of her toys.
After receiving Post-It notes in a favor bag recently, she's left him notes throughout the house, ordering him around when she's not there to do it herself. The only problem is her brother is 15 months old and he prefers to tear the notes down and eat them, which Clover takes as an aggressive rejection of her orders and she fires off more angry notes in response. "DUNUTTAKDOUN!" Okay, the exclamation point was mine. She hasn't learned about the exclamation point yet, but when she does, she'll fill an entire Post-It with them to stress her point.
For now, I am loving this stage, but I know this is only the precursor to the note on the door she will learn to spell correctly and clearly: KEEP OUT!
How do I think I can do Nablopomo again? I was hit with the flu last week and while I feel better, what energy I have is devoted to catching up with life. Good thing Nablopomo wasn't this month or this past weekend would have been full of hourly updates regarding Imodium's efficacy.
I took over the Scholastic ordering for Clover's class, which is kind of a pain in the ass and I called Scholastic to quickly answer some of my questions. They were not helpful, citing the Federal "Hippo" law preventing them from discussing the information with anyone other than the teacher. I assume they meant the HIPPA law, but I thought that related solely to health care and my local Costco's lameness as they instituted a one customer at a time policy at the pharmacy to protect private information, causing a simple prescription pick up to suddenly take over 45 minutes. Yeah, Costco sucks as a drug dealer. Okay, whatever Scholastic, I'll trust this applies to you too, but did Congress really intend to block me from finding out how to handle online ordering in conjunction with the traditional paper ordering?
After school we headed to the coast to get our pumpkins in Half Moon Bay. I love going to the pumpkin patch, but at the same time, I love getting it over with for the year. When we got out of the car, the kids were clean. Within minutes, Rocket had mud on his face and they were both generally dusty and disgusting. I took a lot of pictures of them from behind to hide their filth. This way I can remember them clean. Rocket also does not like to pose for pictures, which comes as no surprise, but still is endlessly frustrating. I mean, c'mon, what is going to be on our Christmas card at this rate?
We've gone to the same patch since Clover was a baby, mostly because the pumpkins are nice, but they also lack the inflatables or pony rides that the more standard patches need to attract business. I like that. But most of all, I like taking the kids to the same place for the same pictures every year to mark their growth.
The pumpkin patch specializes in unique varieties, including this odd Australian number:
Rocket left no corner of the patch unexplored. When he finally reached this destination, I knew it was time to go home.