Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 10: The Wager

So on the drive, Big got his first taste of the Lion King soundtrack.

After hearing "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" he was a chorus of again's.

King song. AGAIN!

At one point, Eight chimed in assigning vocal roles for family members.

Eight: I'm the girl!

Me: There is no girl!

Eight: Uh HUH!

Me: What girl? It's just Simba and that bird!

Eight: Uh uh. Nala's in it too! She's singing!

Me: Wanna bet? I'll betcha an ice cream cone!

And so it went.

Note to self: never bet a kid about a kid's movie that you've seen twice (one of the times includes the Broadway production).

We watched it, loudly, tonight with Cousin, Cousin-husband, Cousin-kid-No1, Cousin-kid-No2, and Big, with Cousin in the background singing "I just can't wait for my cone!" while cooking up dinner.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 7: My Oldest Brother Comes for a Visit in Cheyenne

I had to jump ahead in time for a moment, will return to days 5 and 6.

Here is a text from Husband-of-Cousin:

"[BlogAuthor's Brother] there yet? Once he arrives there will be more gay people in my house than straight people. That has to be a first in the state of Wyoming."

Day 5: Hot Springs

On the morning of day five, we headed over to Hot Springs to eat at Baker's Bakery Cafe for breakfast, recommended by Sidekick and her parents and then headed down to Hot Springs, our ultimate destination being Cousin's in Cheyenne.

I was still on my childhood re-creation trip when I added Hot Springs to our "to-do" list.

Thirty-odd years ago we stopped at Evans Plunge, which I remembered as the biggest pool I had ever seen in the world (the view I remember looked a bit more like this picture) and, because spring water flows into it (at a rate of 5000 gallons a minute), the water is warm--87 degrees.

As a kid, this was a highlight of the trip.

We arrived at an entirely anti-climatic, small, and seemingly not-updated dirty building with peeling paint on all sides. We were thinking of the four hours of driving ahead of us to Cheyenne when I asked BioMom to take a little 'look-and-see' without promising anything to the kids on whether or not we'd go in for a swim.

She came out all thumbs down. The mineral water makes the whole place sort of smell and it felt really run down to her.

BioMom: Why don't you go in and take a look? Looks pretty gross to me.

I went in and was propelled back in time. I ran back to the car and insisted on the healing powers of the mineral water and that we'd regret this opportunity for nostagia if we didn't spend an hour or so in the pool.

It was all I had imagined (after you got past the clammy feeling of the women's locker room on your feet). I was sure it must have been much worse thirty years ago, as my mother would never have gone somewhere that had banned smoking on its premises.

The water was not as warm as I had remembered (maybe its the added body fat?) but the new slides and outdoor area were fantastic. Eight must have gone down the "plunge" twenty times. It was essentially a slide that dropped 30 feet or so into the water. The smell and feel of the water was rejuvinating and it reminded me of the hot pools in Budapest as well as other natural springs around the world.

We stayed in for about an hour and a half and headed out on the road to big sky country at 85 miles per hour toward Cousin. We luckily followed her advice to get gas as there was literally only about three stations along the way, drove through a small snow storm, past racing coal trains, and vast nothingness toward her house.

Pictures to follow.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Days 3 and 4: "Custard" State Park

With the Badlands in our rear view mirror, and Finding Nemo on the DVD player with the voice of Ellen DeGeneres as Dori correcting the Marlin character when he observed the Whale's belly as being at least half empty ("actually, I see it as half full"), we sped toward Rapid City and Custer State Park (which Eight persistently referred to as "custard" state park) with a renewed, optimistic, sense of hope.

We had planned on traversing the distance between the national park and Mount Rushmore, grabbing lunch at the base of the "four faces" (upon the suggestion of Father-of-Four), checking into the "bunkhouse" at the State Game Lodge, (which, by the way, would turn out to be a charming room with eight single bunk beds) and then on to a Chuck-Wagon dinner by 5 p.m. That, plus I wanted to try to grab a Geocache along the way.

Optimism was not only uplifting, it was necessary.

Here are two pictures that capture the five minutes BEFORE


arriving at Mt. Rushmore.

As I write this, I am sitting in the comfortable home of Cousin, recollecting the nearly 15 hours spent in the car. Of that time, the above picture is literally the ONLY time either kid slept. Eight fell asleep minutes before we rounded the last turn and saw George Washington's nose as though inviting all the nasophiliacs east of the Mississippi.

Then, within minutes of walking to the penultimate position for viewing the faces, it began to hail (talk about 'hail to the chief'!).

Big now reports the story by saying that the "four faces were sad." The rain actually made it look like they had tears on their cheeks:

I remember really being in awe of the actual construction of the 'four faces' when I was little. Marvelling at the relative size of the people hanging from wires and platforms, hammering out the contours of Roosevelt's glasses, the pictures with Washington's face completed but only outlines of the others while the work was in progress. Eight seemed somewhat nonplussed about the whole affair, even after my pointing out the old-timey pictures of the mountain's pre and post-facial.

We left the monument and wound our way through the beginnings of Custer State Park toward our Chuck Wagon dinner through hairpin turns and single-lane tunnels that framed amazing views of the old mountains and one even of Mount Rushmore itself.

It was breathtaking.

The Chuck Wagon dinner was one of those kitchy things we thought we couldn't pass up, but as we wound our way toward the ranch, the sky darkening with storm clouds and the clock inching toward Big's witching hour (that hour where his energy becomes spastic and somewhat uncontrollable), we began to regret the commitment (we prepaid dinner on the credit-card).

It ended up being a really fun evening, although the third picture in my previous triptich captures Big's mood as we rode the bumpy wagon around an entirely-too-long loop toward a steak dinner that he simply refused, choosing instead to play with his cars in the rocks below the table, taking small bites of my offerings, and returning them immediately to the bench above him.

We had planned on leaving Custer for the next night, heading down to Hot Springs for the night in the KOA, but when BioMom re-read the email about the "kamp ground" which clarified the need to have 'brought your own sheets' we prolonged our stay at the lovely lodge in Custer, taking an entire day to play in the hills and explore Needles Highway, and Custer itself. It was a lovely break in the pace we had been setting, which, I realized, mirrored our own hectic life. We needed to slow down and smell the buffalo pies.

Sleep was much more comfortable, even in the bunk beds, and we woke to two happy siblings, enjoying a cup of milk and cartoons in an upper bunk together.

That afternoon we headed back north to Needles Highway. This is one of the parts of the vacation with Cousin and parents, taken thirty years ago that I remembered most vividly and so I drove slowly soaking it all in. Was I driving on the EXACT road that my parents took so many years earlier? How did they feel? What were they thinking? What were their plans for the day? It felt magical to me, as though I were somehow touching them, communicating with them and our lives together.

I remembered that at some point along the drive we had pulled over for a closer look. My parents were fairly cavalier about our safety and whereabouts (Cousin is seventh of seven and I am fourth of four, and seventeen years younger than the next oldest) so we entered into the needles themselves, climbing up, over, and around the narrow passages. At one point I remember feeling panicked. Where were we? And where was my mom? I could hear her whistling to us, seemingly close, but at the time I had no idea how to get back to her from inside the maze of rocks. We were lost.

Now, at thirty-eight, I wanted to find that place again.

We drove in and around, gasping at the scenery, when we went through another one lane tunnel. On the other side, many cars had gathered and we slowly drove past. Nothing looked familiar, so we drove on, but both BioMom and I had a gut feeling that that was the place to be, so we turned around, and headed back. No sooner were we out of the car, when we looked right and saw this:

And knew we had found Needles Mecca.

We looked left when Big shouted: There's a peep rock!!!

. . . His nickname for his penis.

It was the only time I was happy we have not followed the P.C. parenting trend and used nicknames for their genetailia.

We climbed and squeezed through the rocks and I got lost in my memories of Mom, Dad and Cousin in the Needles.

The Badlands Part Deux: BioMom Guest Posts!

I offer you, dear reader, the below guest post from BioMom. It marks the first real presence of her in this blog. I had originally intended her to be like Norm's wife in Cheers--there, but not really there--but I thought it'd be fun for you all to hear her perspective on our little family vacation.


I guess we spoiled the kids. We didn’t really mean to. It’s just that the only vacations we have really taken as a family have been to the North Shore where we have rented beautiful homes through Cascade Vacation Rentals (check them out at You know what I mean… Open kitchens with granite countertops into great rooms with big fireplaces…Cute moose dishwear with matching knickknacks to boot. In fact, I am sitting here guest blogging on a newly constructed king suite in Custer State Park. Blogauthor and I are sitting on our king sized bed with its 400 plus threadcount sheets while the kids sleep comfortably in this air conditioned room. Each of us has a computer warming our laps with a gin and tonic (diet tonic) on our bedside table and a bag of Cheetos (baked) nestled between us…Now THIS is vacation.

So, I guess it is no surprise that our night in the Badlands was a bit of a bust. The brochure described the cabins as “quaint” which I actually really liked. I read lots of reviews from people that said it was perfectly located to view the spectacular scenery. Believe it or not, a lot of research that went into the selection of that lodging…Well our kids wouldn’t have it. Both of them complained in their own special way.

We arrived in time to attempt a nap with Big. Blogauthor was kind enough to take Eight to go climbing some Badlands hikes while I looked forward to a quiet afternoon of reading People and catching up on some email. Big would have nothing of it…He cried and screamed from the minute I put him in his pack-n-play. I tried more milk, more books, more snuggles…Nothing worked. Until, after a half-hour struggle, he hoisted himself out of the portable crib and walked into my room stating “I got me out”. The next three hours of waiting for the girls to return consisted of me chasing Big around the small cabin circle on his Skuut and climbing all over the housekeeping golf cart pretending he was a police officer saving me or taking me to jail. It was actually very fun but interminable.

When Blogauthor and Eight finally returned from their escapade, we ate dinner and then moved onto bedtime. Our rigidity around bedtime ended up backfiring as the kids were not very comfortable in our “rustic” cabin (which still had the last tenants coffee in the coffee pot and dirty cups on the window ledge when we arrived).We decided Eight should sleep in a separate room because she wakes up so incredibly early. Needless to say, she wasn’t having it… She was allegedly terrified of the rattlesnakes and sobbed for hours while we became more and more frustrated, neither of us having had a break from childcare for the past 24 hours. As you can imagine, being at work most of the time, I am simply not used to this 24/7 parenting…Man, is it exhausting. Anyway, we all finally collapsed into sleep by midnight and slept a good 8 hours.

We woke up, packed our stuff and got the H. E. Double-toothpicks out of the Badlands, and I had never left our quaint little accommodations

The entire time we were there, Eight kept asking why it was called the Badlands. I kept my reasoning to myself.

All American Vacation: Day Two

Day 2: The Badlands

We definitely spoke too soon about the joy of family vacations.

We arrived in the Badlands after another dayish of driving. After wrestling Eight away from the Continental Breakfast offered at the Motel 8 (where we had a successful sleep despite my 1 a.m. blogging), we headed into Mitchell to see the much-overrated-to-the- non-consumer-oriented Corn Palace. We were, essentially, retracing the steps of a family vacation that I took at Eight’s age, with my folks and Cousin, and I wondered what had seemed so magical about this place to me then. Had thirty years and commercialism ruined it, or me?

The Palace was our first real foray into the one-two-punch of teaching budgeting and values, two priority lectures for an economist: giving Eight a small budget with which to work in terms of acquiring personal souvenirs and such, while at the same time gently reminding her that everything there was complete and utter crap that would be discarded as soon as her feet hit the pavement back in Minneapolis.

As an aside, she’s never had an allowance, let alone a budget. We operate under the philosophy at our house that everyone pitches in, in exchange for room, board and, in our case tuition, so there’s really no need for an allowance. While this may (on good days) serve to foster a sense of duty and fairplay among the kids, it backfires on us, however, whenever Eight comes into any cash, perhaps from letters in the mail from Grandma. The old greenbacks seem to burn holes in her pants and she’ll be sure to relieve herself of their burden at the first possible chance, be it taking the neighborhood for sodas at the local coffee shop, giving it to the poor at church, or to any stranger walking their dog on our block. Here! Have a dollar! No, really! I don’t need it! Take it! She’ll say. Once, our backdoor piano teacher returned a dollar bill that she had received from Eight in a thank-you card for the set of Great Books she had given us.

This is all to say that since she does not have her own funds, and we have never ventured on a so-called ‘family vacation’ we have never come upon this situation in which Eight wants to spend a little dough on stuff that we’d prefer to not purchase.

She quickly narrowed her search to a row of imitation kittens with faux, yet real-to-the-touch fur of various sizes and a fairly large price range. The one she had in mind cost $7.99, or about seven dollars more than we had hoped we’d spend at this juncture, day 2 of our vacation, anticipating an infinite number and variety of souvenir shops to go.

Note that, all political correctness aside, next to the bows and arrows, straw hats, cowboy and [Native American] play sets, and corn paraphernalia, the cats had absolutely nothing to do with the socio-political, economic, geographic, or botanological region in which we were visiting.

She ended up "pooling" her money with Big’s money (he involuntarily forwent purchasing an equally un-related item in his sights: a police car with doors that actually opened. He and I left the consumer orgy with him on my shoulders yelling about leaving his 'blue car' behind and me continually asking 'what blue car?').

And so, Stella, the fairly realistic, yet uncannily small, and, we would soon discover, sibling-rivalry-provoking cat, entered our lives.

Once in the car, Eight showered attention on her new purchase, trying out various names ("baby", "snowball", "kat", and "softy" before ultimately landing on the final name), and requesting additional snacks to feed her, and tempting big with the new toy in the car who seemed to be taking her attention away from him.

Big: I WANT the kitty!

Eight: NO!

Big: Whassername?

Eight: Stella!

Big: I WANT the kitty!

Eight: NO! She’s MINE!

And so it went.

About an hour later, when the newness subsided slightly, she allowed Big the privilege of holding Stella. At that moment in our travels we were about to cross a wide open expanse that included the Missouri river valley. It was beautiful and BioMom and I attempted to redirect the kids’ attention to the glorious nature around us when BioMom heard Big mumble under his breath: Throw kitty in river.

Unsure of what she heard, she asked him to repeat. He responded diabolically: THROW KITTY IN RIVER!


The first overlook of the badlands erased all of the unpleasantness associated with that hideous yet uncannily real-to-the-touch cat. The way that the land gives way to this glorious sea of striped contusions delving deep into the ground is mesmerizing. Had we not had a two-year-old hell-bent on flinging himself into the crevasses, we would have stayed for hours.

But the legacy of that short stop for us would not be regretting not spending enough time there. No. It was a simple sign. A sign that we stopped and took pictures of and about which giggled, somewhat nervously. It was this sign that would prove to ruin our night.

We next headed directly to our destination, the Cedar Pass Lodge (from the online brochure: Cedar Pass Lodge offers 22 historic cabins and is located mere steps away from hiking trails. Although there are no private phones and televisions, you'll be pampered with heat and air conditioning, a coffee pot, and hot bath. Note to self: when the lodgings are described as "historic" in conjunction with the use of the term "pampered", steer clear.).

Although unspoken, I suspect we all had our misgivings upon arrival. BioMom noticed the used plastic cup between the curtain and the window and the toothpick on the floor behind the bed (as Cousin would say, there is no good reason for a toothpick to be laying about anywhere), Big, the left-over coffee from some previous tenant (Baba! Coffee!!!, said he, running over to me with the cold pot in hand, rancid coffee spilling over the edges), and I, the certainly not innocuous hole next to the sidewalk and under the house to the right of the back door, clearly the home of some unknown critter. Eight's misgivings would become apparent to us at bedtime, though I'm sure they were in her thoughts upon our arrival.

Because it was naptime, Eight and I decided to go on a hike while Big and Mom relaxed in the cabin. We found a great place with a little fossil walk and a promised talk in 45 minutes. I thought we could go on a quick out-and-in walk to explore a path and the environs. We got about ¼ of a mile in when Eight started to panic. Every bird's squeek, bug's rattle, or wind in the grass had her screaming and running to me, clinging to my arms and begging to go back. The rattlesnake sign had clearly sunk in.

Apparently, however, the rattlesnakes only lived on one side of the highway because after seeing kids climbing all over the little hills on the other side, she was plenty comfortable crawling all over, and didn’t want to leave.

I’ll let BioMom’s soon-to-be-posted guest-blog describe the snake-infested night that we barely endured. Suffice it to say that we won't be returning any time soon to that particular destination. I’ll skip to the morning where in the quite din of water running over me in the shower, all I heard was fighting over Stella.


Eight: NO!


Eight: You can earn the right to hold her if….

It was all I could do to not take that flea-bitten tourist-trap and throw her to the rattlesnakes!

As we left the glorious Badlands, BioMom and I continued to marvel at the view, the beginning scenes of Nemo to our rear, our kids' eyes glazed over at the little screen hanging from the roof of BioMom’s Behemoth, when we realized that we may have inadvertently left Stella behind, in all of the commotion of packing, at the snake-infested shack.

We pulled over, and, after a bit of well-disguised searching (Eight: What are you doing? Panic seeping into her voice. WHO are you looking for?) found Stella between the Baked Cheetoz and the unopened bottle of blueberry and lemon infused vodka that we had hoped to christen the night before in the shadow of the badlands mountains at our rustic little cabin resort.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

All American Vacation: Day One

So we're off to see our Cousin, the wonderful Cousin of all.

This is the longest vacation that we've ever taken as a family -- BioMom is "off" of work for two weeks (i.e. not in the office, which means both something and nothing all at the same time) -- and the first road trip in our lives as a family (and as a couple).

We're taking the "Northern Route" to Out West where Cousin is currently residing, taking four or so days to get to Cousin's, a week or so AT Cousin's, and the "Southern Route" home along which we'll stop and see my family in Nebraska.

Today was Day One of travel and as BioMom put it, we expected a 62% day and got a 98%day!

I shouldn't jinx myself by saying that before I've slept a full night. The only reason I'm up now is because BioMom effed up the AC in the room and I woke up on a pool of my own bodily fluid (not the good kind). But really, that aside, it was a great day.

We got on the road after only one retracing of our path back to the homestead (we had only gone 9 blocks, coffee already in hand and $75 already spent in fueling BioMom's BEHEMOTH of a car (if you're looking for someone to blame for us being in Iraq, look no further. Halfway here I had to use the megaphone from the driver's seat to ask the kids if they were doing alright and needed anything), before I realized that I had forgotten a cellphone charger and the actual PHYSICAL map--no GPS or on-the-road-Internet for THIS gal) at approximately 11:30 a.m. I actually made an appointment to get my hair cut this morning -- the departure day -- knowing that we cannnot physically get out of the house on a Saturday as a family prior to noon, so there'd be no early worm phenomenon for us. No conflict of interests on that front. We arrived after only ten thousand "are-we-there's-yet" and "how-many-minutes-lefts" (in the face of literal hours as if just using the term "minute" will make it so) in Mitchell SD, home of the Corn Palace, at around 5, swam in their darling pool where Big fell in love with the slide that circled out of the building and dumped you back into the pool with a little splash, ate pizza poolside (eff weight-watchers for now), got kids in bed despite being surrounded by a hotel full of toddlers screaming with dark circles under their eyes while roaming the halls in their swimsuits only just on their way to the pool at eight and nine p.m., without seeming awareness nor protest from our own, by eight with only a few incidents including our boy throwing his sippy cup off the second floor of the poolroom in a fit of rage over BioMom assuming that he was small enough to warrant a sippy cup (in public, I suspect) in the first place (it narrowly missed hitting some kid's head). Neither kid slept in the car despite a dose of dramamine (for Eight, this was a necessity to prevent puking in said Behemoth, but for Big, it was sheer hope and no, we're not opposed to drugging the kids for a little P&Q.)

We're actually mimicking a trip that Cousin and I took with my parents when we were Eight's age or so, a trip that I remember fondly. Tomorrow the Corn Palace and then on to explore the Badlands.

Look for daily reports pending Internet service (BioMom can't get her wireless highway card to work and is, I suspect, experiencing a bit of an internal meltdown about it, but is keeping it well to herself).

Here's to all of those anti-gay marriage folks out there -- you can't get any more All-American than a trip across South Dakota, two kids in tow, with stops at the Corn Palace, Wall Drug, the Badlands and Mount Rushmore, nose picking jokes and souvenier swag included.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Suh-mer-taaahm. . .

And the livin' ain't easy...

So, Cousin and I have been playing a little email-tag.

We try to mail to each other the worst of the worst of those email lists that either propose to lift you to a new spiritual awareness with all of their new-age advice, appall you with their racial connotations, make you bite your fingernails about what is to come if you've had a boy-child, or make you throw up a little in your mouth with the disgusting photos people have produced and sent out to millions via the Internet.

And we haven't even gotten around to porn yet.

She started it and she's WAY out in front at the moment. Apparently she's got 'a guy' out there, out West. A supplier.

Anyway, her most recent email, titled 'just thought you should know' contained a list of 40 (yeah, that's right, FORTY) "Tips for an Exceptional, Superb & Powerful Life!"

I thought to myself upon opening, how can I ignore THAT? I mean, life can ALWAYS get better, can't it? Especially now that a couple of neighbors and I have started weight watchers and I'm eating WAY too much fiber and paying the price of it later (and yea, I just learned about the wondrous effects of Beano).

So I spent two minutes OF MY LIFE reading the forty tips to a better, no, SUPERB life.

This particular email was on the serious side. It took it's advice seriously as though the author truly had the goal in mind of making an Internet's population of readers obtain that superb and powerful life they've always wanted. All we had to do was accept this key to the lock. And the advice itself was actually pretty good. All that 'what I learned in kindergarten' type of stuff like take walks, don't worry about what other people think about you, spend time with kids and the elderly, etc. But what is infinitely annoying is the author's paltry attempt at humor: "Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to."
My mom came to mind on that one where we would all, including my cat, follow her into the bathroom. I bet she wished she had locked the door.

With these little additions (don't forget the lock!) the author is giving us this key to our new superb life, but knows that his little gems may be a bit difficult to swallow so here's a little spoonful of sugar for you thought the author, adding a little chuckle.

I considered printing out Number 14 and pasting it on the inside of Eight's door to her room: "Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues
of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment."

I have finally learned that she loves drama so much that she'll make it happen if it's not happening itself. Last night was a perfect example.

It was only day four of summer and already I had heard her say that she was "bored out of her mind" no less than five times.

It is partially my fault. I've had a paper deadline and have been (or tried to be) focused during Big's naps, and the neighbor kids hadn't gotten out of school yet so while that saying is like fingernails on a chalkboard to someone who dreams of having nothing to do, I could understand. So, as yesterday evening approached, with an over-tired and somewhat under-the-weather Big having woken up early from his nap, and me, frustrated with his shorter-than-normal nap which translated into no down time for me, I remembered that Four-of-Four's dance rehearsal, going on that evening, was a blast to go see and that Eight might really enjoy!

Me: Why don't you call [Four-of-For] and see if you can tag along?
She: Grump. Ump. Harumpfh!
Me: ? Go on Honey. You'll have a blast. And you know how summer goes? It gets moving, we get busy, we all go on vacation and pretty soon it's over and you haven't spent much time together. Go on!!!
She: Will you call for me?
Me: No, Honey. Be strong. Do something for yourself! Make something happen for you!

She finally went and had a blast. She saw friends from school, was free to run around the place for a few hours, ate at Wendy's (we never go to burger joints so this is a real treat for her), and got home past 9 p.m. (a full hour past even her summer bedtime)!

How wonderful!

As I was putting her to bed we spent five minutes or so talking about the day and the day to come. I was imagining how fun it must have felt to run free with her friends through the school where the recital was being held. Cousin and I used to explore this huge old building of my parents' Eagle's club when we were little and had a blast.

Me: So, did you have fun?
She: Yeah. I guess so.
Me: What? You didn't?
She: Well, YOU could have called for me.
Me, suppressing any anger or residual rage and attempting to change the topic: Well, what did yo see when running around?
She, in a sarcastically slow voice as if saying "are you friggin' stupid?": We. Saw. People. Watching. A. Dance. Recital."

Obviously, this was going nowhere, I thought.

Me: So, tomorrow we're going to the pool with [Four-of-Four], [Big] and Big's friend Sophia! Doesn't that sound like fun??

She: But Big and Sophia will want to play with me. . . And then I won't get to play with Four-of-Four!

Me: Now that sounds like an okay problem to have! Lots of people wanting to play with you?

She, not letting me turn it around: But. . .

I finally realized that she just enjoys the drama. The process of creating drama. Listening to the drama. Figuring out how to drama anything and everything.

Drama is my new verb.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Two and a Half

I tremble a bit as you approach and pass the 1/2 year mark as Eight is usually a bit more trouble on the second-halves of her years.

There's no doubt that you're a little more challenging as of late. But as usual, your tantrums, while loud, are short in duration. At Target the other day you were screaming for one of those items in the checkout lane when I started singing "You can't always get what you wah-ant!" and now, whenever I say I want a kiss from you, or for you to put on your pants, or for you to go to bed, you repeat it back to me.

I can see this is going to be a challenging adolescence where you're concerned as well. I can just imagine you telling me this when it comes to you perhaps graduating from high school with something over a 2.0 average, attending college, and doing all of this PRIOR to getting some gal pregnant. "Nope" you'll say insouciantly, "You just can't always get what you want." And I'll think "DAMN! Maybe I should've just BOUGHT those friggin M&M's in the checkout lane way back when you were TWO!"

You are also very sweet and surprisingly helpful. I planted two new trees in the back yard recently and have been obsessed with watering them (despite the daily storms we've been having). So, the other day after I had drug the hose out to the trunks you ran up to the spout and exclaimed that you were going to help me by turning on the water.

It is amazing as a parent at how little it takes to feel like you've been helped.

Lastly, I think one of the most amazing things that I have watched over the last two-and-a-half years of your existence here on this planet, is you growing into yourself and becoming aware of the world. We saw a sign for "Kids Hair" the other day and you said "That's where we go!"

Just amazing.

Here are a few pix from Junes present and past.

You on our nature walk.

You getting your medal upon completion of your class at The Little Gym.

You, one year ago this month.

You, two years ago this month.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

Big and I had a few spare moments today before the hubub of Eight's last day of school sucked up our time into its own wild vortex today and we chose to spend them at a little retreat from urban life in the middle of the city.

He ran down the paths screaming FOREST! FOREST!, fawned over the little toad that we found, tempted fate by swinging on the ropes along the bridge overlooking the lake, reported seeing Giraffes! Hyenas! and Gorillas! to anyone who would listen, worried about potential bats and spiders in said forest (Too scary!) and fought leaving when it was time to go.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Maybe we should plan a trip to see Cousin's sister? Check out this headline from the New York Times: First Same-Sex Weddings in Greece

Monday, June 02, 2008

Blogging for LGBT Families Day 2008: Billy Wishes He Has Two Moms TOO!!

In honor of Dana Rudolph of Mombian's Annual "Blogging for LGBT Families Day" I'm coming out of blog-cover and posting again!

My immediate thought about what to blog on this auspicious occasion was how we (GLBT parents/families) are simultaneously the same as any other parents/families and at the same time really different.

And then I thought, no! I haven't been sharing with you all my strange (and wonderful) experiences at this trimester's ECFE (early childhood and family education) class, and the particular woman (a teaser for future possible posts: she told a neighbor and fellow-lesbian parent something to the effect of "you're one of those gray-haired women walking around with Guatemalan kids, aren't you"!?! and at another time, when one woman came in exasperated by her extremely active and large- personalitied two-year-old-boy, her suggestion was none other than spanking!).

In honor of her, I'm blogging about that all-too-supportive response from other parents who have just realized that they are in the presence of a GLBT parent:

"You know what _____ said to me the other day?? S/he said that s/he wished s/he had two mommies too!!!"

This is the parent version of "Oh, you're a lesbian and went to the University of Minnesota? Do you know _______? I think she went to the U of M too!"

The first two hundred times I heard about little Billy mourning his lack of a second Mother, I thought it was really cool and that the parents were really supportive and part of the "straight-but-not-narrow" club.

Now, however, I've become a bit wary of that response.

In fact, depending on the context, I'll offer you several possible interpretations in case you, dear reader, face that wolf-in-lamb's statement yourself.

Possible thoughts inside the head of the person reporting that their kid "wishes HE/SHE had two moms":

1. The Exhausted: "I'm so effing sick of emptying the dishwasher, washing diapers and taking care of these brats all by myself because my husband travels all the time and doesn't lift a finger when he's home! At least if there were another woman around here I know I wouldn't be stuck doing all the work!"

2. The Nervous: "I am SUPER uncomfortable being around this woman who I thought was just a middle-aged-Minnesotan and now I come to find out is a LESBIAN!?! What do I say now???"

3. The Over-zealous: "I REALLY want people to know that I'm super progressive and even though I'm straight, I'm an ally! Really, I am!!!"

4. The Closeted: "I sometimes wonder if I am a lesbian....? Maybe Billy really COULD have two moms!?!"

Of course, kids do say the darndest things, and who wouldn't want to Moms, (at least in the utiopian Americana leave-it-to-beaver sense as opposed to the "no-more-wire-hangers" sense)?

But let's just be clear about this, Billy's not wanting two lesbian moms.

And that's the sense in which we're not just like any other parent on the block.

Our homes, for the most part, still don't have wedding pictures decorating our walls (despite the recent victory in California!), our kids still have to grapple with either being--or not being--adopted by one (or more) of their parents, they still deal with questions from other kids that their peers don't have to even consider (which, I warn you, get more interesting as they approach puberty and are beginning to be exposed to the birds and the bees), and they (as research shows) feel protective and as if they need to defend us (their parents) in the face of homophobia out in the world.