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)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Just Joy | sidewalks, feel me strut so good; gutter, don't forget this face

  • We are at the circulation desk checking out this week's book haul when one of the librarians (one I remember from my own childhood visits to Cary Public Library) compliments Mads on his Batman mask and gloves. Mads is exasperated and corrects him, "No, I'm The Flash," and I translate/explain that Mads is actually The Flash disguised as Batman. Mads tells him, "Actually, Batman is my brother and he let me use his mask." The adults have a good chuckle at this. One librarian says, "Nice brother!" As we're walking out the door, Mads turns and shouts, "Remember, I'm The Flash and I run really fast, but Mommy doesn't like me running in the library!" I am doubled over laughing as I usher him out the door.
  • Mads has fallen into a limp, heavy sleep on the drive home. I lift him out of his car seat and cradle him, shushing with "my sweet boy"s and "mommy's here"s. 93% asleep, he reflexively lays a smacking smooch on my neck.
  • I am a nearly 33-year-old woman, riding a horse on a 96-year-old carousel, calliope music and pastels washing over me.
  • Cars slow down and honk, drivers wave, as we light fireworks in our drive way. A shower of sparks rain down, silhouetting my baby's excited face as he looks back at me, making sure I'm sharing this spectacle with him.
  • We are having a great, slow morning together--the kind of morning I want to have more of, the kind of present, mindful morning I am proud of. I turn on Queen of the Stone Age's "Misfit Love" and Mads plays along with a pink plastic whistle. Wolfman picks up Mads' tiny play guitar and begins to strum along.
  • It is Sunday morning, and I have to wake Mads at 7 so we can take his dad to work. He's happy when he opens his eyes as I pull up the blinds in his room. When I lay next to him to snuggle a bit before we're off, he asks dreamily, "Mommy, can you scratch my back?"
  • Grandma is standing in my kitchen, and Thorn meows at her feet. She leans down and groans as she picks him up. "I forgot what it's like to have a big cat like this, a T-shell cat," she says (her favorite cat, T-Shell, was maybe even bigger than Thorn). I ask her how much she thinks he weighs. "I don't know? Thirty pounds?"

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Madmartigan, 3 Years Old | Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why you had to hide away for so long

An interview with Martigan, early on the morning of his 4th birthday:
Q: How old are you?
A: Four!

Q: What is your favorite color?
A: Blue!

Q: What is your favorite food to eat?
A: Apples and blueberries and strawberries.

Q: What is your favorite show or movie?
A: Justin Time.

Q: Who are your favorite super heroes?
A: Thor and Iron Man and War Machine and Wonder Woman and Rescue Bots.

Q: What are you thankful for?
A: Strawberries and bananas.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do?
A: Play!

Q: Where do you like to play?
A: At the playground. At the trampoline park.

Q: Where do you and daddy go during the day? Where have you been going lately?
A: Markets!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thankful Thursday | rock has got the right of way

My garden has done a lot of Jesus-take-the-wheel-ing this summer. And, despite my self-sabotaging instincts, I managed to relax into a state of mild and pleasant surprise at the goings-on in my little chicken-wired garden plot. I let go of my expectations completely and accepted that this was a hard summer. I was sad, and some of my houseplants died while I was sad, and outdoors my would-be garden just had to make its way without a gardener. Let me admit here, however, that I've never been a good gardener, necessarily; my gardens have always been a sort of laissez faire event due to my incredible lack of skill and/or knowledge.  But, this year I was more neglectful than ever before. I hardly visited my plot at all. I tended to the compost pile, tossing kitchen scraps in and turning the hot mass with shovel, but of course producing garbage is easier than producing sustenance. Pumpkin vines wound about the entire plot, choking out my peppers and tomatoes. Zucchini rotted on the vine. I did pick several large yellow mystery squashes, the stems of which deposited tiny spines into my skin, but I failed even the charming task of deciding how to cook and eat those squashes. They grew a film of fuzzy mold on my kitchen counter. Then, I tossed them into the compost pile and broke into them with a shovel, which was satisfying. 

I did not garden this summer, but I did sit in the back yard and drink rum out of a hollowed-out pineapple at the solstice. Many an evening, I sat reading stupid novels while Mads played in his $7 plastic pool (often, I'd pour Buddy Wash in while it filled and call it his bath). On Tuesday night, we roasted marshmallows at the fire pit after the sun set and "camped" (Wolfman set up the tent out there). I am so grateful for this fenced in back yard, for the Walmart plastic pool, for the tiny pumpkin that grew while I wasn't watching and protecting it, for Thorn Rex as he perches on the deck with his fat belly hanging over the railing, for stinky herbal bug spray, for a man who can build a fire, for tropical fruits, for the smell of meat cooking on an open flame. I am grateful that summer is almost over.
I Am Grateful.

  • I am grateful for books that mean nothing to me, procured for next-to-nothing, that I can guiltlessly rip apart for art projects.
  • I am grateful for an ink smudge on my fingernail that makes me feel like Jo March.
  • I am grateful to past me, for all the meticulous notes in my past journals.
  • I am grateful for AC/DC playing on the radio as the high way opens up and we pick up speed.
  • I am grateful that our ailing beast of a truck, Brunhilde, chose not to start on a day when we weren't in a particular hurry, on a day that Wolfman was with me, rather than a day I was out alone or out alone with Mads.
  • I am grateful for grimoire flip-through videos on Youtube (like this one).
  • I am grateful for the smell of Play-Doh and coffee and sizzling sausage links, all in our kitchen one morning.
  • I am grateful for the way Wolfman sometimes unexpectedly falls into a Scottish brogue. 
  • I am grateful for the tastiest margarita I have ever had on date night at La Rancherita.
  • I am grateful to be married to a man who tips servers so generously.
  • I am grateful for very sharp razors with which to slice through boxes.
  • I am grateful for the crinkle of packing paper.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Madmartigan, 3 Years Old | headlong little one into the wild unknown

Dear Martigan,

The past three months have been a painful blur for me, and I think I've missed out on some things. I've been here, of course. I haven't gone anywhere; I never will. But, I'm not always all-the-way-here. Sometimes I will hear your little voice becoming agitated and realize you've been talking at me for many moments without recognition, that I've been lost in my head, and the guilt of that crushes me. Your dad and I have done our best to explain to you why things are different now. None of these explanations make a whole lot of sense to you, but you're picking up on the fact that life is strange and unfair, and sometimes people are disappointing. Try as I might to protect you from those facts, I can't wave them away when they land on our doorstep. I can only kneel next to you and listen hard while you talk, and answer your questions as honestly and simply as I know how, and apologize if I miss what you say the first time, then listen harder. Even when I've been distracted and sad, I have loved you and I have been amazed by you. 

And we've had fun. You are a joyful creature. You are a creature full of a lot of feelings, joy being one of them. We laugh quite a lot. You have that same clownish impulse as your dad, that same desire to see me giggling until tears spring to my eyes. You are so kind, so intuitive and sweet. I never worry about the man you'll be. But, I do want to do a better job of watching you and guiding you as you become that man, whether the world is falling down around us or not. 

I love you always, in every moment, every day,

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