Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thankful Thursday | when you press me to your heart, I'm in a world apart

I Am Grateful:
  • I am grateful for the Duplo blocks that quiet Mads and capture his interest.
  • I am grateful for every part of my body that jiggles because I'm made of flesh not paper.
  • I am grateful when I hear sirens, for the people who make livings of helping others.
  • I am grateful for my grandpa, steady and good and full of love.
  • I am grateful to come home to a house full of good cooking smells after a long day at work.
  • I am grateful for little gifts left in my cubby at work from co-workers.
  • I am grateful to Grandma for picking us up and taking us to dinner at Martigan's favorite, Firehouse Subs, and I am grateful to her for her good humor when Mads eats only chips and does not touch his sandwich.
  • I am grateful for citrus-scented dish soap.
  • I am grateful for the jingling tinkle of my many charm bracelets (Christmas gifts from Grandma this year) against china coffee mugs as I put them away in the cabinet.
  • I am grateful for the way salt patterns swirl on roads and look like some ancient magic runes, and like snow, impervious to sun and heat.
  • I am grateful for the competing morning sounds of Uriah Heep on the turn table on one side of me (in the living room) and Wolfman tuning up his guitar on the other (in the bedroom).
  • I am grateful for the tradition of wearing my husband's boots and coat (so much more practical than my own) to tromp around in the snow.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Madmartigan, 4 Years Old | I'm a man you don't meet everyday

My guy, he hates the snow. He hates the cold. He wants to watch the same episode of Rescue Bots over and over (the first episode; he loves watching the autobots choosing their earth disguises). He tells me, "I just love toys! That's the thing I really love." Some days he's not much interested in food and meal time is a struggle; other days he is ravenous and eats two adult sized sandwiches for lunch. He talks, from the moment he wakes up in the morning until he falls asleep at night. I know him by his little voice, his chatter, his questions, his games, the songs he sings. He also tells jokes. He also lets the people he loves know he loves them. I worry I let him eat too many sweets, and I worry that he is a little soft (see the last photo, of my supposedly wild boy wailing his dismay at the existence of weather), but he is articulate and hilarious and so full of love, so I'm doing something right.
About Mads, 4 Years & 5 Months Old:
  • When he plays with transformers and action figures, his Big Bad is "The Nothing" (from Neverending Story).
  • While sick, he woke suddenly one night crying out, "I ran out of batteries!" then fell back asleep.
  • We've done away with television in the mornings, and instead, to much objection and with many failed attempts at negotiation from Mads, we listen to music, play games, and I read from magazines and books of fairy tales. Mads objects the least and engages the most when I read recipes. And, in fact, once or twice he has even requested we flip through recipe books together. We have big plans to make pretzels this week.
  • As his dad and I giggle together in the kitchen, Mads demands, "You tell me your secrets or you're fired!"  
  • His big Christmas gift this year was a bike, from his grandmommie, Sandra (a Batman bike and an Iron Man helmet). He got sick almost immediately after Christmas, and then we had record low temperatures the following week, so he hasn't done much riding yet.
  • He can draw a perfect circle.
  • He is not a fan of Dim Sum.
  • Favorite books: Sam's Sandwich, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Little Blue Truck
  • Favorite shows & movies: Transformers: Rescue Bots, Boss Baby

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Yule 2017 | the sky is a hazy shade of winter

There was a time when I passed harsh judgment on my neighbors whose Christmas trees lay used and discarded on the curb on the 26th of December. Now, I am one of those people. I had to be at work at noon the day after Christmas and so started early dismantling our tree that morning. By second breakfast, I was dragging our tree into the thicket beyond our back fence for the wild things to use as they see fit. 

Is it only when you work in retail that you're asked, constantly, "Ready for Christmas yet?" in the month of December? Or is this a thing we say to each other regardless of occupation as the holidays lurch nearer, a seasonal replacement for all that chatter about weather? My standard, if unwholesome, answer quickly became, "Ready for it to be over." My poor tree was also pooped out on the yuletide, just a couple weeks into the month. Promptly and without notice, it died. The thing was dry as good kindling, and I feared that's what it might become what with all that incense burning I do in the house (keeping all the Ghosts of Christmas Whenever away). I didn't spend nearly as much time this year happily arranging and rearranging my ornaments on the tree as I did last year, so I didn't immediately realize exactly how dead it was. 

Unlike my tree, however, my holiday spirit was only Mostly Dead, not All Dead. There were moments to be had, both holiday-specific and not. For instance:
  • As I travel back and forth between the front porch and back yard, carrying rotting jack o'lanterns to the compost bin, I am watched by a little brown lizard, poking his head out of the trailer-shaped bird house hanging near our walk, his little claw curled around the doorway of the house.
  • In the kitchen in the morning, still in our pajamas, I join in on a hug between Mads and Wolfman, wrapping my arms around them from behind, kissing the back of Wolfman's neck and Martigan's plump baby cheek, his face resting in the crook of his dad's neck. Mads repeats, "I love you. I love you guys. I love you..."
  • It is the night before Thanksgiving and Mads is cranky and done as we walk out the door at Grandma's house. Grandpa gestures him forward, puts an arm around him, and they turn their backs on Grandma and me, like they're sharing a secret. Grandpa says, "What did I tell you we're going to do tomorrow? Watch the parade. Watch the dog show. Watch football. And eat until our stomach's hurt."
  • I've just come home from work. Mads is asleep. The radio is on, playing George Michael's "Last Christmas." Wolfman rolls his eyes and says this is the kind of song to be drunk to at an office Christmas party. We begin dancing as a joke and then, my arms around his neck, we dance in earnest.
  • On the road, driving to Grandma's house, Mads and I sing "Holly Jolly Christmas," along with the radio. I have no idea where he learned this song, but he knows nearly all the lyrics. 
  • Wolfman and I meet each other's eyes with a spark of joy and humor. We've just won the Worst Parents of the Day award for letting our 4-year-old son eat ice cream and sip boba tea at swanky new Milk Lab Cafe at 9:00 at night. 4-year-old has responded, predictably, by having a complete meltdown on the sidewalk just outside the cafe. (When I ask, laughing only a little bit, "Baby what's wrong?," he wails into the night, "I DON'T KNOW!")
  • My boss has just appeared, at the front door of the store, like a customer (which I mistake him for at first) instead of slipping in unnoticed through the back. He hands Nicky a stack of envelopes, says something nice probably. I don't know what because inside my head is a voice that sounds very like Prince Gristle squealing, "Christmas Bonus!" It's like I've just eaten a troll. I am that happy.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Thankful Thursday | you with the sad eyes, don't be discouraged

I have lived within the pages of my journal, lately. I have dived deep into these cheap composition notebooks and paper-mached myself in layers of National Geographic photos and Martigan's artwork and other paper ephemera I come across, like the O. avoseta bee who makes a Thumbelina cocoon of flower petals. I have explored and experimented more than, perhaps, ever before, and it has been therapy. I am grateful to the journaling inspiration gathered from various social media platforms. I am grateful for old books and magazines full of beautiful images and the glee of ripping into those pages to construct something new and personal. I am grateful for the patience of my husband as I sit down one more night, not to snuggle with him, but with the open journal on my lap. I am grateful for smooth-writing pens with heavy, dark ink. I am grateful for the particulars and peculiarities of my handwriting. I am grateful, again, to my husband for bringing home a stack of composition notebooks (my preferred medium), snagged for 30 cents each at the pharmacy up the street.

I Am Grateful.

  • I am grateful for FM radio in the morning--the happy chatter, the recognizable commercial jingles, that one Tom Petty song every station plays.
  • I am grateful when I drop a plate and it doesn't break; I am grateful for each of the vibrant, mismatched plates I've collected over the years, unwrapped from thrift store newspaper like treasures.
  • I am grateful when Mads cannot wait to get home and asks me to read the books we choose at the library, right there, sitting in the aisles.
  • I am grateful when I hear Wolfman's key in the door and the dog's wagging tail thumping against the sofa as she hears it and is grateful as well. I am grateful for the memory of Lunchbox's tail thumping against sofa, mattress, and floor. I am grateful for every dog who ever wagged a tail in my presence and the ones who will wag tails for me and my loves in the future.
  • I am grateful turning the store sign over at the end of the night to announce to the dark parking lot "CLOSED."
  • I am grateful for that moment driving in the rain, when the car drives under a bridge and all sound is sucked up into a vacuum, so briefly--a half second of eerie silence--before the sound of pounding rain on our roof commences again on the other side of the bridge.
  • I am grateful for the fleeting softness of brand new, never-worn, never-washed socks.
  • I am grateful for minty toothpaste on my baby's breath as I carry his sleeping body into the house at night.
  • I am grateful to finally squeeze out a couple tears at the end of a long day (and longer summer), and I am grateful for Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" for getting me there.
  • I am grateful for the sound of stew bubbling on the stove.
  • I am grateful for the way Atalanta blushes pink when she's happy.
  • I am grateful when Wolfman tells me, "I'm lucky to have you," and I get to respond, "I think I'm the lucky one."
  • I am grateful for all the little messes in our home, because they show how we live and play here.
  • I am grateful for Grandma's beef stew, the taste of my childhood in her home--warm, hearty, a touch spicy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Madmartigan, 4 Years Old | everybody's got a thing, but some don't know how to handle it

This afternoon Mads has a smudge of chocolate on his chin, like a goatee.  Together we made s'more bars (thus, the chocolate). Mads crushed graham crackers while I melted chocolate chips.  When he realized he could not eat them immediately but had to wait an hour for them to cool and set in the refrigerator, he left the kitchen in a huff, announcing, "Shit! We just made shit!" I followed him, laughing, and, incredulous (but still giggling), asked him to repeat himself.  He gave me a cheeky smile before hiding away in a living room fort. "I said spit, Mommy. We're making spit. Isn't that funny?"

Martigan is three months into being four-years-old, a real kid. He loves playing hide-and-seek, but always hides in the same spot. He paints nearly every day. He is frequently what we term "stinky" (his dad and I "call stinky" on him when he's being bad), especially after eating sweets (I will pay for the chocolate on his chin later). But, he is also a giver of hundreds of kisses and compliments. Today at lunch he told me, "You're a good mommy."
About Mads, 4 Years & 3 Months Old:
  • He is tall enough to reach light switches.
  • He is in the 30th percentile for both weight and height (a little guy), and in his doctor's medical profession, absolutely perfect.
  • The key to a perfectly well-behaved sweetheart of a child with nary an episode of stinkiness is no sweets or television (all day), but Mads has rotten, indulgent parents, and this rarely happens.
  • Once, when sent to his room in punishment, he snuck out with his Spider-Man mask over his head and seemed surprised and outraged when he was ordered back to his room, Spider-Man or not.
  • When he wears a combination of Spider-Man, Batman, and Capt. America costume parts, he becomes Captain Spider-Bat USA.
  • When I ask Mads to finish eating his breakfast, he tells me, 'I'm all hungried out, Mom."
  • He prefers the Curious George stories when George and The Man live in the city to the new country ones.
  • After re-watching The Lego Batman Movie, Mads asks, "Don't they know they're legos?"
  • He consistently points out letters--either lines and shapes that remind him of letters or actual letters on signage, etc. He is particularly keen on 'M' and 'W'. ('M' is for Martigan; 'W' is an upside-down 'M').
  • Martigan's favorite toys and games this month: Candy Land, Baymax action figure, Rescue Bots
  • Martigan's favorite shows/movies this month: Transformers: Rescue Bots, Sing
  • Martigan's favorite books this month: Curious George, Batman's Dark Secret, I Am a Witch's Cat

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thankful Thursday | I kinda like to be the president, so I can show you how your money's spent


  • I am grateful for the rumble of the dryer which puts my tireless kid to sleep.
  • I am grateful when I open the blinds in Martigan's bedroom and catch a rabbit in the yard on the other side of his window.
  • I am grateful for thunder so loud and booming it shakes the building and sounds like a giant approaching.
  • I am grateful that only moments after I come inside from my walk, a downpour starts, and I am grateful for the percussive sound of rain on the metal roof at work.
  • I am grateful for the arrival of autumn in grocery stores--mums out front, trick-or-treat candy bags on end caps, orange and black Halloween greeting cards, plastic trick-or-treat pails with jack-o-lantern faces grinning, pumpkin Krispy Kreme donuts.
  • I am grateful to come home to a bouquet of orange flowers and a black & orange circle scarf (with little black tassels!), out of the blue gifts from my honey on a day I feel particularly achey and unapproachable.
  • I am grateful for the Scooby Doo movies Wolfman and Mads bring home, the familiarity of those voices, the way they feed my inner child and make me laugh, the joy of my son experiencing and loving these characters and scenarios that were so beloved to me and his dad when we were kids.
  • I am grateful for Mads singing War's "Why Can't We Be Friends" in the back seat of the car.
  • I am grateful for the imprints of last night's rainfall in the sandpit at the playground.
  • I am grateful for my 90s era paisley Victoria's Secret robe--thrifted by Grandma and generiously given to me when I expressed admiration for it--because it could've been worn by Vincent Price or Christopher Lee's Dracula; it is flamboyant and jewel-toned, lush and luxe.
  • I am grateful to pick up my son's toys from the floor when he is asleep at night, because it reminds me that he is real and he is here--to be blessed with a son is more than I could've dreamed or hoped for.
  • I am grateful for the way my husband makes me feel worshipped under his gaze and hands.
  • I am grateful for the patience and tenderness and humor of Wolfman as he explains Lio comics to our son.
  • I am grateful for the first customer to ask me, "You have a dog?" on the day I've adopted Atalanta.
  • I am grateful for a spider web in the trees, blowing in the breeze like a sheet on the line.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Madmartigan, 4 Years Old |

About Mads, 4 Years & 1 Month Old:
  • Rather than "cannon ball," Mads shouts, "Canny Ball!" as he tosses his Bumblebee transformer into the full kiddie pool in the back yard.
  • When he wears his Spider-Man web slinging glove in combination with his Batman mask, he is Spider Bat (a hero of his own invention).
  • He practices new words and their definitions like so: "He's a bandit. He takes things that aren't his. He's a bandit."
  • Mads is also practicing good manners and politeness diligently. For example, "Mommy, I would like it if you would please wipe my butt." 
  • Mads sometimes refers to his dad as "your husband" when talking to me.
  • Mads says, "Mommy, I'm going to throw up on you," and mimics vomiting first thing in the morning. We're working on not making rude noises (vomit, farts, burps) in restaurants, which is difficult when I'm not as strict about not making those noises at home in our kitchen.
  • Mads says, "Remember when I was 3, and you picked me up all the time and you were always close to me?"
  • This month: Mads wrote his first song, he got his hair cut at a barber shop with his dad, he did a lot of art projects including learning how to collage in his journal.
  • Favorite books: Curious George and Batman easy readers
  • Favorite movies/shows: Justin Time (always)

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