Author Archive

Resolved…

Saturday, January 8th, 2011

He runs! I follow!

1. Pay closer attention to patience and being in the moment with all things concerning my son.

2. Lift my eyes up from the dishwater and enjoy myself. Lifting my eyes up from the DISHWASHER would be nice, but perhaps the happiness I feel lifting my eyes up from the dishwater and its endless supply of dishes needing attention, glancing out the windows, perhaps catching sight of the once-tame-now-feral big white bunnies digging holes in the front yard or frolicking along the sidewalk, catching sight of the many, many neighbors’ Christmas lights and air-Santas still in place, catching sight of a piece of red sky or red-tailed hawk swooping or that amazing palomino clopping along our road, its rider decked out in sombrero and spangly chaps—-perhaps these sorts of visuals will thrust me into such a happy place—happy, content, appreciating the background sounds of my son playing tug-of-war with the dog and his toy—that I will totally bliss-out and attract a silver dishwasher into my life. Dishwasher or dishwater, I resolve to focus more on these three words: All is well.

3. Not be all crabby about my February birthday (for once).

4. Continue to give to a charity each month, even if only $10, even if only $100.

5. Continue to write every day so that I can end the day knowing that I have written and stepped: Forward.

6. Remind my husband to remind me that we must remind ourselves to have our movie-night w/popcorn popped in olive oil, even if such a movie-night seems impossible that particular week.

7. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

8. Plant more beauty in the backyard because it’s important for writers and tired parents and young minds to look out the living room windows and see blooms that weren’t there the night before. Heck, turn the backyard into a forest with a non-brackish stream for splashing maniacally in and redwoods and blowzy ferns and foliage you can crawl under for a nap or pizza party—now there’s a resolution.

9. Keep thinking positively.

10. Keep optimism always close.

And it goes without saying, but here it is in writing: Read, read, read (to my book-loving 3 year old, for myself, forever).

PB WRITES
PBRIPPEY.COM

2011!!!

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

It’s a new year. What a concept! How marvelous to start afresh with resolutions carefully typed into Word, resolutions sought with open mind and heart in (extremely) rare moments of domicile privacy, or—fished for from the sweetly-art-deco-bottom of an emptied Mikasa champagne flute on NYE. Hurrah, PB! Hurrah for resolutions!

Sheer inspiration…

Please stay tuned. PB cannot write more this evening, as it is now 10:18p.m., ALREADY and one of PB’s huge resolutions, already broken, is to be settling down for sleep by 10p.m., every night, to abate the—difficulty—of her son’s 5.a.m. wakings and the dog’s I WILL BE WALKED IF ANYONE MOVES IN THAT BED AFTER THE HOUR OF 4:00 IN THE MORNING, and the cats’ SCRATCHING THE LAMPSHADE, WE’RE SCRATCHING THE LAMPSHADE AND MOVING ON TO THE HALL CARPET, WE’RE RUNNING ACROSS YOUR SLEEPING BODIES, WE’RE KNOCKING DOWN PICTURES ON THE DRESSER, WE WANT FOOD, WE WANT, WE WANT—listen, it’s just time to go to bed. Happy New Year. I heart resolutions. Mine have already come in handy this 4th day into year-bliss. Seriously! Peace. Um—resolution-on, man.

Manor owners.

PB WRITES

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Looking forward to 2011! May all of our best dreams come true.

Good doggy!

PB WRITES

Blog Break: More Christmas…

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

I don’t know about your house, but THESE are the kind of Christmas shenanigans going on around here:

Salmon and cream cheese, also pb&j

Not to mention early Christmas presents from Semi-Secret Santa Mommies:

Ooooo!

Or Christmas caroling to the dog:

Fa la la la la…

But this, THIS is really what’s going on around here—every—single—second:

Christmas Mad Dog…

O perfect, metaphor-catching picture! Yes, I vacuum up dog hair twice daily, rise at 4:00 a.m. to allow the child into our bed, awake every 5 minutes until 6:00a.m., when it’s time to get up for the day because T wakes with his headlights on BRIGHT and is ready to rock and roll and eat pancakes I’ve secretly stuffed with carrot puree and applesauce, yes I’m still a sleepless mother despite preschool, but I can honestly say: I am enjoying the season. He is enjoying the season. My currently snoozing husband, too.

TGIF.

PB WRITES

Pardon My Absence…

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Who knew the end of the year could be jam-packed with so many changes? New dog, preschool (!!!), Thanksgiving at our house—well, that happened last year, too. I guess I mean: HOLIDAY SEASON (MADNESS)!!! In addition to us all waking up at 4a.m. (at which point little boy comes and gets in bed with us and plays tag with my kidneys with his heels), 5a.m. (at which point Dadda takes the dog for a rollerblade/walk), 6a.m. (at which point the youngster among us is up until naptime). I am also editing/revising my novel. And mopping floors and finishing Christmas shopping THIS WEEK and organizing a booked calendar and hoping I’m not forgetting anything, anyone—like this blog. And—well, see picture below. ‘Tis the season! Let us Hallelujah. Until the next post.

Fa la la la la! (etc.)

Preschool Guts…

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

This post is important for me to write as it involves almost not listening to my intuition, almost letting exhaustion run my mind instead of logic (not that logic isn’t a fair weather friend of mine), thereby almost resulting in sending my son to the wrong preschool instead of: the fantastic, nurturing, sun shines out of its a**, Waldorf-got-nothin’-on-us, creativity promoting, we-help-potty-train preschool he is currently attending.

Wanting to take his toys with him to the school visit.

A month before his 3rd birthday, my son switched from sleeping through the night until 6am OR LATER, to waking up several times during the night and for good by 5a.m. I should say, he reverted to this brutal waking hour, one I have yet to (3 years later) get used to. With the addition to our family of a 2nd toddler, Tucker, my sleep once again constantly disrupted, my husband and I considered preschool for our early waking, determined to test his parents, adorable son. “I’d rather have a sane wife than—well, than not,” my husband told me as I stared dismally into my 5am coffee mug, having forgotten to put coffee into the maker’s filter, thereby brewing myself a pot of hot water. “Just need more, um, what’s that called. Sleep,” I whispered, my head crashing to the table, snores louder than the dog’s erupting.

He picked it out himself.

My son and I visited several schools. One in particular struck my fancy as it is close to us, thoroughly gated and full of teachers. This school’s Mission Statement extols enriching the lives of 3-year-olds and helping to potty train them, if necessary. Miss A was soft-spoken and when she sang songs, her students listened. However, on the 2nd day of visiting, misgivings plagued me. Miss A had 10 little ones and no helper, despite all of the teachers-teachers-everywhere. On our 2nd day of visiting, Miss A’s class arrived and wouldn’t behave or follow rules and this took a huge toll on Miss A—she was stressed out after the first hour. Understandably so! How could she watch 10 rampaging toddlers AND help some with the potty, change diapers, have them make their Mayflower boat painting, read to them, sing to them all by herself? Bless her. She did her best and I admire her. She should be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars and receive free spa visits for what she does.

The Mayflower!

But the fact that she had no assistant worried me. Furthermore, when the kids were outside in the fabulous playground, teachers seemed to manage kids vs. play with them, or make games with them. This “managing” crept deep into my subconscious and troubled me.

That evening, I once again fervently Googled preschools in the San Fernando Valley, my heart sinking when the schools I hadn’t yet visited and was most attracted to were Montessori or Waldorf based and $10,000/year. Not do-able at this time. So I started resigning myself to sending my son to Miss A’s class, because how different could preschool programs really be, anyway? Perhaps managing children was what happened to children his age, no matter WHAT a Mission Satement insisted (and the Mission Statements school to school, whether pricy or modest tuitions, were all similar). Instead of teachers dressing up like fairies or historical figures or wizards or animals and introducing students to acorn art and really wild stories and fun songs, perhaps the reality was a class like Miss A’s. And besides, Miss A was a nicer teacher than at any of the other schools I’d visited, she was closer to home and———I slept on it.

Little Big Boy!

The next morning I decided to visit one last preschool near us that I hadn’t checked yet. I was 99% resigned—yes, resigned!!!—to Miss A’s school, despite my guts twisting every time I thought about it, despite alarm bells and sirens wailing through my brain, trying to shake me up, trying to order me not to settle for anything less than the best for my son, trying to tell me I was going to have to start from scratch and check out schools farther away if I had to—advice hard for a Mama with bags under her eyes to take. Alarms did penetrate my fatigue, though, because we did visit. Here’s what happened.

The second we were shown into the secure preschool area, I was greeted by the Director, a friendly woman wearing a tye dye summer-ish dress. She gestured to the play area and encouraged my son to explore it, which wasn’t necessary, as he was already RUNNING over to join in the activities. As my son engaged with children, the Director showed me around and second by second I was swallowed by the happy vibe of the place, it’s cheerful student artwork proudly displayed on walls, it’s library, its toys and homey feel and outside, its sand and bubbles and teachers moving here and there with the packs of kids, instructing, suggesting, stimulating minds. Correcting, yes, there was correcting going on by the teachers, but it was obvious they were there for the children in a way that the previous school’s teachers were not. My son held Miss M’s hand within the first hour of our being there and accompanied her to the potty, went potty and returned wearing a pull-up beneath his jeans instead of a diaper. I almost threw myself into the Director’s arms and sobbed relief into her tye dye. I had almost made a huge mistake. No—preschools are NOT all the same and the right preschool IS out there. We had definitely found ours.

Off he goes!

So I’d like to thank my own personal nagging and alarms for not giving up on trying to alert me. I’m glad I listened. The return for listening is priceless. I must never forget to listen, never excuse not listening, never settle. Now pardon me as I try not to weep in my car, having left him at preschool for the first time. My little big boy! Mama is going home to nap while you paint, make giant bubbles, sing songs, make art with acorns, sit for storytime, enjoy snacktime, make messes and help to clean them up. I promise you, my son, I will be a better mother for extra sleep and some time alone—and you have some new things to discover and tell me all about when I pick you up in 3 hours. Sniff, bawl. I love you, baby! (cue that Carly Simon song that plays at the end of “Heartburn” with Meryl Streep).

A Sleepless Mama sniffs and tries to keep it together.

PB WRITES

Preschool: An Introduction…

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

My son just turned 3.

Climber!

A year ago he and I visited a preschool. It was very: science station, art station, monthly themes (pirates, the holiday stuff), and parents could hang out and peek around corners to see if their children were happy——

Ah, science!

Leave my son in that sweet, teacher-caring, we-provide-potty-training environment? A Mama’s worst nightmare!!!

Excavating!

A year ago, my son would not sit still for any storytime we attended. He parallel-played consistently. He did not engage in science stations (his sand and water table at home, dirt pile in our yard) for longer than a few minutes. At the preschool visit, he obsessed on the indoor pirate ship thingy and screamed when I tried to get him to look at what the other kids were doing, upsetting parents peeking around corners. I was scared of disrupting the entire school. So we left, with me telling myself that there is plenty of time for pre-school, that he is going to be in school for such a good portion of his life, why not stick to playdates and beach outings and park fun.

Water drums!

Tomorrow we’re returning to that preschool from a year ago. My son’s sleeping habits have reverted to his first year of life, when wakings were constant and urgent and why this is happening again is beyond me. I don’t feed him sugar. He doesn’t eat fast food. He drinks milk. Tonight he even accepted steamed green beans. I am. A. Vigilant mother. Especially when it comes to my finnicky eater. So why the wakings in his cozy, super-dark room (but for a little nightlight)? Why? Mama is so tired…

Interesting jeep!

So tired, that I AM READY for preschool. 3 mornings a week. As long as he likes it.

Painting!

He does love being around kids on playdates and at the park, even if older kids don’t realize he is actually following them around and playing some game they are inadvertently involved with. He does crafts now (for about 10 minutes). He likes bugs and binoculars and anything pirates and rockets and marine. He won’t sit still for a storytime, but if the other kids are, maybe he’ll consider settling in, especially since he loves books. Tomorrow is a big day.

Says so much.

Because it’s not about me. Of course it is about me! But not really. You know?

A Mama learns to let go a little. And catch up on some sleep.

Little guy. Little pre-schooler (maybe). I will bring my box of tissues with me tomorrow. Happy Birthday!
Little guy!

PB WRITES

Blog Break Ad Nauseum…

Monday, November 8th, 2010

There are reasons for all the blog breaks I have posted of late, instead of writing meaningful material. Ha ha! Place your mouse over each photo to receive an explanation. Or—not…

Uncle Bob’s Birthday!

“Papa” visits and brings miniature golf platforms.

My dad’s 70th birthday!
(One sister is not featured in photo as she lives in Iowa—however, we missed her greatly, although the Pater HAD TO ACT as if overwhelmed by female offspring invading his household. Could not cooperate and just smile normally for camera…

Dinner guest!

We love him and his toddler ways!
Newest addition to our family!

Frikkin’ Time Change!!!
Yes, that’s right: Frikkin’ time change!

Yeah, and this!
Which means I’m writing/editing.

And my son—

Candy Boy Buzz!

turns 3 in 5 days. November is a busy month! And it’s Christmas at Target. Ouch.

PB Writes

Boo Boo Boo Break!

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

This year’s lil’ pirate.

More costumes!

Two years ago: lil’ pirate.

2 years ago! Gah!

Picture comparison is all the BOO I can take this year!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

PB WRITES

Boo Break 2010

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Buzz on sugar!

PB WRITES

Boo Break 2010

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Buzz eats a cupcake!

PB WRITES

Blog Break #—oh, who cares? Woof!

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Tucker!

Tucker is in the house—and yard and car and—he is everywhere. Hooray!

Woofy Woes…

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Recently a dog came to visit us, a potential adoptee. We were nervous before doggy arrived. We spruced up the house and my husband mowed the lawn. We brushed our hair and teeth minutes before the arrival. We wore nice clothing and had doggy toys on hand we’d picked up at a pet store earlier that day. We had been told that “if all went well” with the visit, then doggy might be ours that very afternoon. We were excited—and I was a little nervous. The last potential adoptee tried to nip my son and slam me down on a coffee table and chew off my shoulder. This latest dog, however, was listed as “kid and cat friendly”, and as looking for its “forever home”.

We really want a doggy. Sometimes we visit Lab Rescue Man’s home down the street from us. He might have up to 6 waggy doggies playing in his yard at one time. T is in heaven when this happens. He runs with the pack and throws balls for them. He pets them and kisses them, if they’ll let him. He’ll give them commands—sit, doggy drop ball, etc.

Al!

We are nice people. Responsible adults run this household and raise a child. We are all animal lovers. So of course we were excited to meet the doggy, even if we turned out not to be doggy’s “forever home”. As long as doggy didn’t try to eat us, we could at least give her some fun in the Ponderosa’s roomy yard, give her a chew-toy to take back to her foster home, have an afternoon of play.

Rudy! And dinosaur! Living together!

“THIS DOG IS NOT FOR YOU,” declared a Cruella-De-Vil with an unraveling eagle’s nest of auburn hair, her Mute Dude trailing after her. She hadn’t even made it to our walkway, but was shouting at us from way over there on the pavement. I stood dumbly on our front porch, my hand frozen in greeting, my mouth agape, my son behind me crying, eagerly, “Doggy! Doggy’s here!”

“I–um,” I stuttered as the wiggly black lab on the choke chain and leash yanked the woman closer.

“THIS DOG IS NOT FOR YOU,” she repeated. “THIS IS TOO MUCH DOG. THIS IS TOO MUCH DOG FOR YOU.”

Charcat—may she RIP. 18 1/2 wonderful years.

I stared at her, baffled, as my husband took over. He greeted the dog generously, then Mrs. Freakazoid and her Mute Dude. By this time, doggy had reached me and I bent to give her some love, my husband trying to calm Mrs. F with pleasantries. I knew he was as baffled as I was. Mrs. F had insisted, initially, that we meet the dog, had insisted that doggy was perfect for us, had already met my husband and son at an adoption fair she was running, had decided that the happy black lab licking my hands might be our “forever dog”. So—WTF?

“Well, why don’t you WALK her,” Mrs. Freakazoid said all suddenly sickly sweet and nice in a bi-polar, schizophrenic moment. “Just go ahead and WALK her.”

She thrust the leash in my hands and I obeyed, walking doggy along the sidewalk for about ten paces, during which doggy lunged, bounded and tested her choke chain. She was only a year old. She had tons of energy and no training. She was going to need some help, okay—but I couldn’t figure out why Mrs. F was sure doggy wasn’t for us.

Then, in his cute little voice, my son asked to hold the leash. Before I could answer, Mrs. Freakazoid jumped in.

“NO! NO! NO! YOU CAN NEVER, EVER HOLD THE DOG’S LEASH! NO! NO! DO YOU HEAR ME? NO!”

She. Yelled.

My son was aghast. Who was this super scary lady? What had he done wrong? I saw these questions race through his mind. I watched his lower lip tremble. He turned and fled to my husband behind us (poor S desperately trying to lure conversation from Mute Dude).

Here’s what should have happened next: I should have handed Mrs. Freakazoid the leash and told her: Thank you for bringing this lovely puppy to visit us. I’m afraid we won’t be using your adoption agency. I’m sure you’ll find doggy the right home. Goodbye now.

Because how could it get better after that, after a total stranger yelled at my son, a wonderful little boy excited to see a dog. Mrs. Freakazoid didn’t wait for my response to my son’s question. She didn’t wait to hear me say, “Doggy is very excited right now, baby. Mama will hold the leash.” She didn’t watch and learn how I will introduce my son to a dog in our lives. She just jumped in, gnashing, rabid, threw us all to the ground and tried to chew our shoulders off.

Mrs. Freakazoid’s brain ALL THE TIME.

Instead of getting rid of the crazy lady, I said, “Why don’t we bring the dog into our yard, since you need to do a yard check anyway.” Sigh. Hindsight is one of my unfortunate talents (see holiday-cookie-recipe posts for other unfortunate talents). I guess at that point I was still thinking there might be hope, or I was being foolishly polite, or I was probably thinking that we “needed” this lady in order to find our family dog—but I have learned that I am the sort of person who must shut the door on crazy people, or bad things will happen, to myself, usually, but also, in this case, to my CHILD. Hello! I will never not trust my gut instincts again.

In the Ponderosa’s back yard, doggy and my son ran around the lawn beautifully, gleefully, having fun. For a moment, I felt vindicated—Mrs. Freakazoid was as mute as her companion while T and doggy romped—but when T tried to show doggy one of his large colorful plastic toys, one that made doggy a little nervous, Mrs. Freakazoid’s switch flipped again. She frothed at the mouth and shook her head, her hair pouffing so much it scared birds from the trees, her bi-polar/schizo-lunatic thing in full swing and after that she pretty much got out of our lives with the dog—forever: When my husband returned home from work the next day, his big news was that Mrs. Freakazoid had dumped us from the rescue’s list of possible doggy owners. She told my husband that until our son was 10, we would not be getting a dog from her rescue, that we were not a family fit for a dog at this time, that my son would hurt the dog.

We love animals!

My first reaction was to phone Mrs. Freakazoid and scream at her, but that would have made me as crazy and Freakazoid-ish as herself. My husband had dealt with her by calmly, graciously telling her that he disagreed with her assessment, that we were moving on to a new doggy rescue because yes we will have a family dog before our son is 10. “Let’s leave it at that, PB,” he suggested. I knew he was right, but it took me a day of teeth-grinding and one stern email to Mrs. Freakazoid—that I deleted—before I could move on. And I remembered something Mrs. F had said before leaving our house with Mute Dude. My husband had commented that she must really love dogs to be so involved with them, and she had answered (in a rare moment of quiet tonage), “Oh, well, I don’t LOVE dogs, I like them, but somebody’s got to do this, I guess, I mean, I’m not a dog FANATIC, not at all.” ??? I hope she is helping doggies, absolutely—but Mrs. F needs people-skills lessons and to spend time with toddlers and I need to never let anyone I don’t know talk to my child like that again without addressing it immediately, bottom line.

So when the home-check person from a different rescue came to visit us today, I was ready. If she showed any bi-polar tendencies, if she showed even a hint of displeasure toward my son, I would have her OUT OF MY HOUSE. You know. In a gracious sort of manner, but–out. Out.

Brotherly love.

The lady who visited us, however, was lovely, just lovely, an obvious dog lover/enthusiast, totally supportive of us, sure that she can find us a family dog. She told us how beautiful our son is, how perfect our yard is for a dog, praised us for wanting to help a doggy in need. She made no promises, but offered her help. An hour after she’d left, she sent us an email saying she enjoyed meeting us and hoped she would have some dogs for us to meet soon.

“Oooookay,” I said and breathed—no, I breeeeeeeeeeeeeathed. “Okay.”

A 3 mos old T loves his animals.

PB WRITES (PB’s Writing Blog)

Boo Here! Boo…

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Here, we prepare for Halloween.

Boo!

This year—as opposed to last year and although he has no idea how to respond when I ask him what he wants to “be for Halloween”—he is totally into the “Halloweeeeeeeen stuff, Mama!”

Ooooooo!

This year he doesn’t rip the decor down, is not frightened of it, or even wary, but holds its bony hands, or cuddles rat bodies, or gleefully pokes and prods all spooky bits hanging from trees or lurking in plants, thoroughly enjoying his eerie front walk and Pyrate Patio.

Squeeeeeeak!

Arrrrrr!

That’s my boy!You’ve come a long way, baby. Now slooooooow down with all the growing and attitude. DO NOT wake up tomorrow morning and ask me for the car keys. Thank you, baby. I appreciate it. (A Mama worries…)

That’s right! I said: Arrrrrrrrrrr!

PB WRITES

There Goes My Baby…

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

We are back in the realm of tantrums. It is a dark land for my son. No toys, kisses or comfort reside there. The din is full-speed-engines over cymbals. Vocals and emotion escalate like the “Star Wars” speed-of-light effect: Vrooooosh—white flashes—there goes T, to confounded private orbits Mama cannot reach.

Uh oh.

So I wait for him to fall back to Earth. Sometimes this waiting takes place in the middle of a store aisle, after I’ve told him it’s time to leave the premises without the item he has requested we “buy go home”. (Don’t get me wrong—I WANT to buy him the Dora/Diego 12 pack DVD set, the $40 Buzz Lightyear robot doll, I WANT to give him every suitcase with wheels and popout handles he rolls around the store and throw in the triple-D-cup bras yanked from hangers and which he really wants me to have, even though of course I can’t wear them—I WANT to buy him Venice, Italy, with swaying gondolas. But, come on…)

Speed of light, speed of light!

I wait: In a park after the pack of kids he inserted himself into leaves the premises before we do. I wait: In Costco after I’ve just told him we’ll pay for our things and THEN get a hot dog. I wait: In our living room after I’ve explained we are out of Triple A batteries and so can’t restart the Mini Monster Truck With Bitchin’ Lightshow. I wait, my head lingering in the freezer, after he’s just hit lightspeed because I’ve told him we’re out of popsicles.

Gah!

I am reminded that I must never think we are totally over a phase, like tantrums—must never wipe my brow and whistle “phew” because early-morning-wakings are a thing of the past (ha ha), must never under or overestimate my son. He understands and absorbs every second and overload kicks in and either sends him into lightspeed, or, alternatively, produces a fresh, astonishing sentence, such as: “Mama, guess what? Moon is (gibberish) and the (gibberish) and (name of toddler friend) and doggies birthdays with nightlights. Tell Dadda when home for deeener. Right on, mama!” (And here, after he’s singled it out from his little fingers, I’m given an ecstatic thumbs-up.)

“Why, absolutely tell Dadda,” I reply, matching his thumbs-up with one of my own, then wiping my eyes with an old, dried-up baby-wipe that happens to be within reach. “My wuvvy baby. Er, I mean, The Force is with you, T.”

A few tantrums daily—a few leaps for mankind.

Force? You rock. zzzzz

PB WRITES

Sunday Thanks…

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

T and I attended a birthday party yesterday morning, held in a park. It was hot at 10:00a.m., soon to reach triple digits. All the toddlers had red cheeks. Luckily there were shade trees so the cupcakes didn’t melt. And the kids didn’t notice—they bounced in the bouncer and played like crazy and wore their long princess dresses if they were girls. T played so hard I was sure he’d have a 3 hour nap, but unfortunately he didn’t transfer from his snooze on the car ride home, to bed. Before I could panic, my husband ordered me to have a nap. When I woke up, he and T were sitting on a sheet on the kitchen floor. They’d made a rocket out of a paper towel roll, duct tape and gold pipe cleaners. They had the paints out. Music was on the CD player. They were having fun. I stared at them, thinking, Oh yeah—this is family life—I have a family—I am a mother and a wife—oh yeah!

Even though T is almost 3 years old, this revelation still slams me.

Crayons make good rocktes, too…

I made pizza pinwheels and we piled in the minivan and headed for Zuma Beach for dinner, driving away from the boiling valley toward coolness. Of course T fell asleep on the way there, pinwheel in hand. He didn’t wake up until we’d spread the blanket on the sand and the breeze swooped in, sea air buffeting his gold locks, whirling around his nose, reviving him. He ran non-stop for the next 2 hours, his Dadda runnning with him as I watched from the blanket, seagulls circling our dinner. There were several falls, some crying, but mostly happy gallavanting. One canny mother had thought to bring a clear plastic container she filled to the brim with sand and seawater. Darting through the murk were sandcrabs, attracting kids like a magnet. Kids, and my son, loved sticking their hands in the water and having the crabs ricochet off their skin. Genius!

They found a hole!

Marriage, a BABY, all seemed, for so long, simply not for me. I was close-minded and probably judgmental of people who had kids—especially if screaming was involved on a transatlantic flight. I learned about children from my sisters’ kids, true. I babysat, I watched, slack-jawed, as they grew like those little pills you stick in water, that instantly balloon into dinosaurs or flowers. But it was impossible for me to have as much empathy for parents and children as I do now. Of course it was! Still, this revelation slams me, too—and I feel a little guilty.

Beach bunny.

My empathy meter these days? It’s in danger of bursting, I have that much. It can be hard to be a baby, it can be lonely being a mother/suburban housewife/part-time poet/outings-initiator, it can be frustrating when others have misplaced their empathy meters and fail to open doors for mothers with strollers or resort to dirty looks when a child has a tantrum in the aisles of Target, but the patience and understanding I have gained, the family I am an active particpant in? My husband and I may have come to this later than is traditional, but all I can feel is, yes, yes, yes.

Home from Zuma, the toddler passed out for the night, my husband tapping away on his computer, I pour a glass of wine and fold another load of laundry—as content as though I’ve swallowed a peace pill, as awed as if I’ve just watched a rocket take off for Mars. You’ve done it now, PB, I think.You’ve gone and got yourself a life.

Thank you, thank you, thank you…

PB WRITES

Blog Break # Infinity…

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Sigh…

The only problem with coming home is leaving the above behind. And allowing for a day of fatigue, in which mother and son are flattened by all the gallavanting they’ve done the week before. Once breakfast concludes, we take eons to dress and whatever else and get our bottoms to Trader Joe’s. Plus, it’s 90 degrees by the end of T’s naptime, so forget Gaga-walking around the neighborhood with T in the stroller, forget piling into the broiling minivan and driving anywhere, forget it. We read books in his room, color paper plates, wash dishes, I teach him how to put the folded laundry away (this includes many drawer openings and shuttings and a slew of high-fives). We roll out the pizza dough and he presses the pulse button on the food processor, not knowing that the spinach and beets and creamy Swiss cheese he is mashing together will comprise the base of his pizza dough, disguised with cheese and olives (and, later, he eats it, still oblivious—a Mama is victorious). We hibernate in stifling September, in the cool of the A/C. And I think fondly of the beach we traversed and mucked about on only yesterday—the perfect playground. It’s good to go away and it’s good to come home, but I have to say that most of all: It’s bloody darn pinchy good to have energy. Vital, even! Ha, ha!

Vital.

THE OTHER BLOG (it’s very quiet over there tonight)

Blog Break: On Retreat

Monday, September 20th, 2010

We have been away for a week—‘we’ meaning myself and my son—and, yesterday morning, bright and early, for the first time in 6 days, D.A.D.D.A. arrived and became instantly on retreat with us. We were very glad to see him. Not that we didn’t do fine on our own—we did beautifully (helped to have grandma and aunties and beach close by)! But of course life is more fun with Dadda around, too. Plus, he showed up with pirate eye patches and telescopes, thrilling T. For news about the retreat, visit my other blog. Until we meet again, I will be reacquainting myself with suburbia, dealing with the appalling “no ocean” aspect of living in the San Fernando Valley and hopefully attending some playdates. Cocktail, anyone? (cue Phyllis Diller laugh)

Arrrrrr!

PB WRITES

Present Reminiscence (w/Sunday Sounds)…

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

“Okay, let’s go! Dadda’s coming. Dadda’s coming. Unh—gotta da teddy bear! Teddy bear! Let’s go. Okay. Let’s go. C’mon, let’s go. Hi, Mama! Okay. Now. Dadda. Let’s play animals. Get nice and cozy. Nice and cozy. Let’s go get da room, Dadda. We close the door?” (Door shuts—I listen to T and his dad play “animals”, which means T lies on the floor and Dadda places all of T’s stuffed animals on top of him, T saying the entire time, “Cozy, so cozy!”)

Where did he go?

I listen from my bed office, house finch chatter and Sunday sunshine pouring mildly through the windows, mug of coffee (my sturdy “Nepenthe” mug) on the side table, enjoying cool wafts of air, Julian’s chatter, strains of Crosby, Stills and Nash from the kitchen boombox, Al the cat banging on the front door to be let in— sounds of family life in the suburbs.

It’s moments like these when I am so thankful I’m no longer single and living in trendy Los Feliz, in a small apartment building filled with single people hiding out from audition rejections, writing rejections, date rejections, the heat, the sunglasses and ripped jeans wearing crowds at The Bourgeois Pig (and it’s pricy coffees and ugly art on black walls) and Birds down the block, hiding from each other, from everything.

Cozy, so cozy!

It’s moments like these I’m grateful I no longer live on a sailboat in Marina Del Rey, despite the beautiful neighborhood and ocean air and cheap rent and friendly neighbors with martinis on their minds, where living was camping every day, a long way from Hollywood business, and crazy-mad on the weekends when every single boat owner in the city showed up to play and writing was simply impossible.

It’s moments like these I’m grateful I no longer live in Echo Park in the building replete with grecian urns and mirrored hallways and views from downtown to Santa Monica–a fabulous view to write by, Elysian Park and its grassy lushness and hiking trails just steps away from the building, Chango for coffee just down the street, but so lonely at night gazing at the soup of city lights, listening to coyote howls and car crashes or high heels and dinner-party-laughter in the unit upstairs and mournful owl hoots in the fir trees as I sat on my narrow balcony with my glass of wine and my candle, view-gazing, licking my wounds, wondering if I’d ever meet Mr. Wonderful, trying not to wonder.

And he switches to animals on the bed.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

PB WRITES (PB’s Writing Blog)

My Peeps…

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

These are my peeps.

I need my people, my people…

I meet up with them hey, maybe 3, maybe 6 times a week depending on life.

This is hard, every time. Isn’t it supposed to get easier?

Our meetups—and I mean regular meetups, not 1 hour in the odd weekday here or there—have been going on for about 4 months. We say Hi!, pick up our weights, and start rocking on the Wave, which I discovered late at night once, when my son was about 2 months old and needed to nurse. Bleary-eyed, I turned on the TV that fateful night and there were my Wave peeps, pushing their product and telling me that after only 10 times rocking my butt off on the plasticky blue contraption, I would notice a difference in my body (how much of a difference was, for obvious reasons, never specified), because I would be working TOTAL BODY, they assured me. Working TOTAL BODY is the touted benefit of the Wave. I had put on 50 pounds during my pregnancy and maybe an ounce of that vacated my physical premises after my son was born. One. Ounce. I so wanted to believe the Wave women. I needed to believe them.

Those are weights in their hands. 5 and 3 pounders.

My Wave sat around for a couple of years until I started using it consistently. Pre-Wave, I dropped more baby weight, slowly, but now that I am a consistent Waver? I crave my peeps. Peeps-fixes are vital. Even though I could hardly walk after the first usage (not a great body-place to be in when you’re keeping up with a toddler) even though it’s taken far more than 10 times of Wave rocking for me to notice anything different about my post-pregnancy, previously IN N OUT burger indulging physical self, something is happening at last. My arms and legs feel stronger. I don’t throw my back out when I pick up my son or the stuffed-to-the-gills laundry basket. I breathe better. And although there are moments when I’m nervous my shoe will slip and send me over the edge of my Wave and into the coffee table where I will lie under a pile of smashed wood and cardio weights bleating for paramedics, I don’t fall. I just do it, like Nike. Or, maybe not like Nike. Maybe more that Subway sandwiches man—I don’t think he works out, though. Blrrrrrgh.

The bent row!

When in the wild heck do I have time to exercise? When my husband returns from work, when all I really want to do is climb in bed and FB while scarfing down my son’s leftover spinach tortellinis. Sometimes I’m this: Hi, Peepies!—at nine o’ clock at night, after my son is in dreamland. Yeah. Wave-rocking peeps at 9p.m. Who am I?

Wave sunnyside up for step aerobics. Ha ha! Ingenious. zzzzzzzz

The only thing that bothers me about my peeps is that Tina and Louise are always working out next to each other. They’re introduced that way by Ally. “Joining us,” she says through her enormous, glittering smile, “are Tina, Louise…”. Maybe it was a conscious tribute to Tina Louise and “Gilligan’s Island”, placing those two together in that order? Why didn’t they do LOUISE then TINA. My peeps all have the same body type, so would it really have mattered if Tina and Louise switched places? I wonder this EVERY SINGLE TIME I join my peeps. I just can’t get over it. Tina. Louise. Ooookay. obsessobsessobsession

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a…zzzzzzzz

Many times I was going to quit, return to IN N OUT double doubles with cheese. Nothing was happening to me anyway, except a little weight loss down by my big toe, a little muscle tone in my pinky fingers—so why try? Why not just give in to hormones and grease? But I’ve hung in and hung in and hung in and hung in and now I’ve lost 10 pounds depending on which scale I’m utilizing and I’ve realized that I simply can’t NOT work out as I’m a saner, calmer person for it. I don’t worry as much. I have more energy. I’m chirpy. I—zzzzzzzzz…

My camera sucks.

So I guess I recommend my peeps. Just be sure your workout shoes have non-skid bottoms. And whatever you do, don’t be in a hurry to get anywhere fast and don’t give up. Unless you’re driving by this:

I miss you, Man!

PB WRITES