Saturday, March 03, 2007

Geoff just called. He was on his way to work, but he’s going to circle his way back to the house and drop-off some bagels for breakfast. He wants me to meet him in the driveway for the delivery. Love is grand! I should be able to hear the grinding, grunting rumble of his ride… and here comes the Big Blue Whale now. (One way to afford a year of private school is to forego the purchase of a newer car. We also rationalize about the effect on the environment the Big Blue Whale has: Someone is going to drive it.) And now Geoff is on his way to the office, and we are coughing on the cream cheese and toasting our bagels. Thank you bagel man! We love you.

Everyone is sick, so we can play together and not worry about cross-contamination. You should worry about contamination, so if you are healthy do not come over to our domestic Petri dish. We have had fantastic dinner plans with James and Deanne and Holly and Rich. I really hate to pass on an evening of good company and apple walnut salad, but this is one of those responsible adult moments when we must choose not to inflict our loved ones with disease and misery. Sigh. We probably should not expect to see Jacob, Adam and Anne on Sunday.

Now that I have proudly displayed our kind and generous attitude towards the people we know and love, allow me to show you what we do for complete strangers… yes, that’s right, we share! And anyone that thinks we should have stayed home and rested is silly. Do you honestly believe children rest when they are sick? No, they do not. They are either sent to school; so they can keep up with their peers, so they can go on to apply to expensive universities. Or they stay home and wrestle, run, jump, build tents and declare their profound boredom every 42 minutes. So if you aren’t going to nap and sip hot soup from the comfort of your four-poster bed, then you should get your butts to Disneyland.

We were more than half way to Orange County before Alex noticed we missed the turn-off for their school. William was in on our plan to play hooky from school. I think it was therapeutic for us to spend time together in the fresh air and sunlight. We walked a lot and laughed a lot. We drank plenty of water.

And most importantly, we showed our love for the birthday boy by playing with wild abandon.

We frequently asked William, “Where to next?” He led us to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ride, and he talked us in to riding the Matterhorn, twice.

We stopped to watch the parade, which

Maria loved.

We took aim at tombstones and cactus in Frontierland, honing our hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity.

I cannot say we are coughing any less today, or that we might be healthier if only Geoff had been at work, the kids in school and I had folded socks and dish towels. We had fun. William wore his new T-shirt: “It’s All Fun and Games,
Until the Flying Monkeys Attack!”
Maria took a long nap, bundled and content in her stroller.

And we saw the elusive Disney Cats. I think they must control the mouse population. Ironic, yes?

Oh, and one more thing you may hear us allude to in casual conversation, at cocktail parties, at the spa… Geoff saw Helen Mirren. I saw her too, and Willliam and Alex saw her from behind, walking away like a Queen. But it was Geoff that made eye contact with her. She returned his smile. Weren’t we too kind? We didn’t chase her down for autographs and pictures and we didn’t give her our colds. But now we can say things like, “Yes, well, when we were celebrating our first child’s 16th birthday and Helen Mirren came by, we were so pleased.”

Thursday, March 01, 2007

William In The Digital Age

Our photo history begins in 2002, when we got our digital camera. Here is William in Hawaii on December 30th. He was 11 years old and not quite as camera shy as he is now.

A few months later and we were celebrating William's 12th birthday. He's probably relieved that I don't have a scanner. I can't get the really old pictures posted.

This is William when we were at Annette and Richard's house for Bill and Alison's rehearsal dinner. It was a fun weekend; I enjoyed seeing my three young men dressed up.

Our other occasion for dressing up was for dinners out at 150 grand. Geoff and I have always enjoyed taking the kids out, because they are a joy to spend time with. William's maturity and sweet nature have always been there.

14 already! Time goes by awfully fast, and everyone warned me, but it's still unexpected.

This is William one year ago, when he turned 15. He likes quiet birthday celebrations with family and maybe a friend or two. When he turned 6 we made a family trip by train to Colorado, and he and Alex got to play in snow. For many years we have made a celebratory trip to Disneyland, which is always a blast. He isn't too excited about turning 16; I suspect time is going by faster than he expected too.

William, no worries m'ijo. You are growing at the just the right rate and in a perfect direction. How do I know? I know you are doing great because of who you are and how you behave. Well, we know we have our conflicts, but I love you. You are bright, inquisitive, polite, sensitive, caring, kind, dedicated and fun to be with. You are handsome. You are intelligent. You are probably embarrassed, because I am singling you out for this merited attention. I can't help myself. The desire to lift you up and show you off has been in me from the moment you were born. Happy birthday son. You are one of my dreams coming true. What a blessing you are. Thank you.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stop And Go

Maria and I love Elizabeth Mitchell. We found this beautiful artist singing with the equally lovely Lisa Loeb on Noggin. We love Noggin too, but you don't have to be a mommy or a two year old to enjoy the mellow and thoughtful lyrics and voices that mingle on "Catch The Moon." When Maria sees her daddy browsing the news on his laptop, she gets on his lap and asks for " 'ggin, 'ggin," so she can dance and sing along, and Geoff promptly brings up "Stop and Go" or "Catch The Moon."

Around bedtime I like to play a variety of slowing down songs, including "New Morning" and "Free Little Bird." There is a lot of "kid music," available, but I like music that is enjoyable for all the family. I don't believe that what is produced for children must be inherently silly, full of rhymes or nonsense, extra loud, or so *hip* it excludes children.

Maria and William are sitting together in a tent in the family room. He's teaching her how to cough with her hand over her mouth, and she is singing Raffi's "Mister Sun" for her big brother. Alex and Max did get a load of catch-up homework. Max has been telling me quite emphatically that he hates school and does not want to go any more. He's quite serious, and he is also quite seriously attacking his homework. He is researching and classifying the common swimming crab; did you know the common swimming crab lives in the northeastern Atlantic ocean?
Picture me with my arm raised in triumph. I have finished updating nearly 5 years of Chickenblog deep thoughts and photographs. Now every post should have at least one label, linking it to like posts. Those photographs that are still secure can be seen using the username “balboa” and the password “park.” That’s it, I think. In my mind there is a constant debate about the value of blogging. The process, though profoundly open and public, is isolating, and tends to make me feel a bit silly. After seeing the sum total of Chickenblog, all the deep thoughts, musings, pictures, the expressions of fear and concern, gratitude and joy, I am glad. I know, I’ve said this all before; how nice it is to have our memories recorded etc… It is good.

I sent Alex and Max back to school. Max was absent an entire week and Alex missed two days. Truthfully, I wanted to keep them home. They are not entirely recovered from their colds. They are coughing quite a bit. Max threw up, and so did Maria; both from coughing so hard. On the other hand, they can’t fall too far behind at school and I know that most sick kids are on campus… gee, how do you suppose we got sick? I wanted to keep them home to fully recover and feel well and rested, and because I miss them. I miss the activity of having all four bright, thoughtful children with creative ideas and thoughtful ways at home together. William, Maria and I get along and we accomplish quite a bit, but we all three feel so much better when it’s time to get Alex and Max from school. Hopefully they felt okay today, and won’t be sent home with a ridiculous homework load.

Maria is the most sick. She hardly slept last night or the night before. She has been feverish, coughing and congested. She looks frail and tiny, and her eyes barely open. In spite of being weak and distressed, she still says quietly, sweetly, “Pease chi-chi. Yummy, yummy chi-chi.” Right now she is serving me tea. She put a hat on my head and she is pouring tea from her toy teapot. It is reassuring to see her trying her favorite games.

Tomorrow is a very special day. I know I will be baking at least one pumpkin pie. I know he would like a pair of noise canceling headphones. Have you guessed? A package arrived from Hawaii, and uncle Hans and aunt Gretchen sent a very generous birthday greeting; all for William, the very soon to be 16 year old boy. My heart and my mind are full. They are full of emotion and memories, and expressions that have no power to match the sentiments I wish to convey. Here he is, my baby, my boy. He is tall, which makes him look older still, and he is quiet and reserved. He doesn’t make demands or insist on much of anything. He’d like some pie, because I asked him to choose something, cake or pie. Tomorrow is a special day, but I think every day is special because of William. He is a good son.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I Miss My Chickens

I miss the sun being bright enough to wear a cowboy hat without self consciously feeling like I am trying to make a statement. I miss growing tomatoes, cilantro, figs, flowers, peppers and carrots. I miss the feeling that with practice and play I might grow up to be a real farm girl, baking, writing, quilting, herding hens, chasing children and being a little bit different from the rest of the pack. I didn’t know anyone else that traded a beach house for a bit of the wide-open spaces and a tractor. And even when we gave all that up, it was with the hope and promise that we were just moving to another farm, an Island farm with taller grass.

Chickenblog was going to be “Kai Kokoke Moa”… Chicken by the Sea. We had plans. Now we are here in Garage Mahal... not suffering by any means, but there’s no plan. There are no chickens.

I like the records and memories that Chickenblog has kept. I like that a friend can follow our ups and downs, stay in touch, share too. But if you came here looking for chicken talk and farm fare, homespun adventures, art and vegetables, well then please mosey on over to “The Pioneer Woman” and then consider visiting the woman that “…Lives On A Farm,” followed by a trip to “Farmgirl Fare.” I just found a “Kona Farmgirl.” Even Melissa Etheridge's girlfriend has her own farm girl blog. In fact, there are 4,670,000 farm girl blogs. (That may just prove that the Internet is bad place to feel unique or special.)