Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Cheer -- Holed Up in a Texas Hotel Room

I've brought my kids on tour again. 'Tis the season. My writerly travels have landed us in the Houston suburbs for two weeks -- in a hotel room. Six of us. My saintly husband and our four kids (aged 13, 11, 8 and almost two). And my my they do love us here. We eat all the free lobby cookies, busted the phone, play nurf gun wars in the halls, leave our door propped open, read with our feet kicked up in the dining area, drink the coffee when that area is clearly closed down, take our calls in the halls (with all the noise, who can hear in the room?), give haircuts in the bathroom, use the lobby copier to print out kid art, pet the fake robotic deer in the lobby display, not to mention the baby screaming (often with joy over the robotic deer) and the live Christmas tree in our room (you gotta have some holiday cheer!) that's now shedding needles ... The staff has got to prefer frat boys.

When we come up to the front desk (the kids stealing lollipops while I ask for kids eat free nights around town), the concierge asks, "So, how long are you all staying here again?"

"A whole nother week!" one of my kids shouts.

(For a look at a FANTASTIC ranch that we visited this past weekend -- alongside photos by brilliant photographer Karen Walrond -- click here! Texas has some pretty spots.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

'Tis Almost the Season

Okay, I was reading my kids' gift lists -- which are typed and organized via iPod Touch by my oldest daughter, who generally orchestrates our lives.

On my 11-year-old son's list, there is this gem: Lobster (not to eat)
This means, I take it, that the boy wants a pet lobster in a tank. Is there another way to read this?

I just imagine the lobster and me -- our conflicted relationship. How he'd sense the fact that I'd want to eat him. How I'd walk by and give him the old chin-up nod, the finger-point gesture of, "I got my eye on you." How he'd chin-up nod back and do his own claw-point of "NO, NO, I got MY eye on YOU."

It would be a household tension that I just don't think we could handle.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Some Days Go Like This:

One of your kids is playing the piano. "Hot Crossed Buns."
You didn't know that they knew it.
They play the first three notes.
Hot, crossed buns.
Then the second three notes.
Hot, crossed buns.
And then they play:
Hot, crossed buns.
And then:
Hot, crossed buns.
And in your head, you think, "One a-penny..."
And they play:
Hot, crossed buns.
And in your head, you think, "Come on one a-penny!"
And they play:
Hot, crossed buns.
You think: "ONE A-PENNY!"
And they play:
Hot, crossed buns.
And in your head, you say, "It's okay. They only know that much. What's wrong with that? I can live in a dimension in which we only get to..."
And they play:
Hot, crossed buns.
And this goes on.
And on.
Hot, crossed buns.

Until, much later, you're crying on the phone to your husband, saying, "I don't know why I lost it ... I just started screaming ONE A-PENNY TWO A-PENNY! ONE A-PENNY! TWO A-PENNY! And ..." You lower your voice. "It felt so good."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chinese Medicine

My son, Finneas, is recovering from a long virus -- having missed 5 weeks of school.
Since traditional medicine was just kind of shrugging at us, we decided to take him to a guru/acupuncturist/herbalist/specialist in Chinese medicine in town -- someone who usually takes months to get in to see. (I did the hysterical high-pitched mother thing and got booked in a week.)

The doctor asked a lot of questions, even about his time in utero. She taped tiny beans in the dip of one ear to help with nausea. She gave us a few teas and something to spray under his tongue for the aches. (The spray was made in Oregon, which I was thankful for.)

And finally she asked the real question. "Does he eat vegetables?"

"He eats lettuce and green apples," my husband said.

"And ketchup!" my son added, having counted it ever since he heard of the Reagan pronouncement of the ketchup vegetable from my youth.

The doctor said, "He must eat three vegetables -- steamed -- every day."

Of course, this was the wisdom we'd been seeking. Of course it also sounded pretty familiar.
My 90-year-old Southern grandmother has been telling us this for years. My mother has been trying to bribe Finn to eat vegetable since he was little. (He once gagged on mashed potatoes that she'd offered him a dollar to swallow. Guilt-ridden for the gagging, she paid him off anyway.)

We wrote a monstrous check and sadly escorted our pathetic selves home.
Finn has since gagged on carrots. He's learned to withstand broccoli. He drinks Fruit Fusion with vegetables in it. He's sticking with his apples and occasional lettuce. Tonight, he will move onto asparagus.

But as a mother in the new millenium, I just figured I'd be saying something different than: Go eat your vegetables.

Friday, November 14, 2008

On Why I Haven't Written

I warned you that there would be times when I wouldn't write much for this blog.

It's my job to create something from nothing. As a writer, you have a blank page and then you add smudges of ink. And, in the end, there's a world filled with people and their entire emotional freight where before ... there was nothing.

And sometimes in a country, there's hope where before there was no hope. I have been standing in awe, quietly.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Joe The Plumber

Our plumber is actually named Joe.

(We have him on speed dial -- our rickety house has pipes made of tinfoil.)