Among the Clouds

We’re leaving on a plane soon. On a plane with rows of seats, and tiny portholes to look out and watch the city below shrink into one tiny brown dot. And everyone sits nonchalantly with their hands folded neatly in their laps or quietly flicking the page of a magazine. As if nobody cares that they’re defying gravity. They’re all flying together in a metal tube thousands of feet above the ground, the same ground that they all securely walk on everyday. The ground that keeps us all safe and… well, grounded. Nobody bats an eyelash, because it’s normal. It became normal somewhere in your life and you’ve accepted it. But that never happened for me. It’s not normal. It’s magic. To float above and be among the clouds, to fly beyond the birds and feel the weightlessness and the slight bumps of the plane beneath my feet- my feet that were once standing on solid ground.

It’s magic, and the thing about that is, I don’t believe in magic.

I have this ritual during take off. Where I sit very still, and I look out the window, and I pray. And when the plane’s wheels lift off the ground and my stomach drops into my ankles, I clutch hard at the arm rests and my whole life flashes in front of me. My husband’s smile, Hudson’s eyes, and Berlyn’s constant melodies, the feeling of their soft skin, my shoes, the black leather ones that have the consistency of melted chocolate, the smell of my bed, my mother’s voice, my favorite sweater, all dance in front of my eyes, as I look out the window, and I’m okay. I tell myself that it’s normal and I try to accept it.

But it’s the control that I can’t accept.

I

Have

No

Control.

If something terrible happens, I just have to sit, and wait until it happens.

Gulp.

But nothing terrible is going to happen because this is all very normal, I tell myself.

It helps to watch planes take off and land out of the giant windows of the airport. It helps to watch the flight attendants pass out soda and tiny starchy bites to everyone when we’re flying, and it helps that my kids are coming with us.

This will be their first plane trip.

And they are dazzled.

They are so beyond excited, and they think it’s normal.

They think it’s magic, and they still believe in magic.

And it’s my job for them to continue to think that. Because I cant’ pass all my psychosis off on them. They have to create some for themselves.

I have to appear normal, unaffected, I have to relax my hands off the arm rests, and pray quickly, because there will be juice boxes to open and coloring books to find in my bottomless bag, and there will be no time to realize that I’m no longer in control.

Because being in control is highly overrated.

observations from outer space

Berlyn has a dance recital this weekend. And if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll be able to see the 1 billion photos of her in her tutu. Because it’s awesome and partly culturally symptomatic. I love her in ballet, I think it teaches poise, discipline, and grace, plus it’s always nice to be able to properly toundu on a whim. But I worry that more exposure to dance will turn her into a sex object at a young age, and then there’s make up and body conscious clothing, and I think next year I’m going to enroll her into shop class instead.

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I held Hudson like a baby as I carried him upstairs for his nap and asked him, “When did you become such a big boy?”

And he answered, “last night.”

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We did a secret photo shoot for Father’s day in a tunnel.

It’s times like these that I wish I had a real camera and not just my phone. One day I’ll grow up and use real photo equipment…maybe then they’d be less blurry…sigh…

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We were in the car the other day, we’re always in the car, and I turned on a song, I don’t remember the name of it, but Hudson and Berlyn were kicking the seat in front of them in rebellion because they wanted Disney songs. Disney songs to float in and out of the windows, to remind them of their youth, and their sappy melodies always coerce me into singing along. But I wasn’t budging. I was happy with my music that was streaming through the airways.

But then, Berlyn proclaimed that my song made her belly hurt.

I rolled my eyes at her.

Then I changed the song, because I knew that feeling.

The feeling of having so little control over your life that it made you physically ill.

And the importance of good music, and writing the soundtrack to your life.

I understand you, Berlyn. And I remember feeling the same way when my parents would listen to total crap in the car.

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I have one more week until Berlyn’s school gets out for the summer. One more week of early mornings, and shuffling out the door with napkin wrapped bagels, and travel cups of milk.  Then I can do this, lots and lots of this:

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But in all reality, I’ll probably be here:

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In my community water park that is only a short walk from my house. Every day Berlyn and Hudson ask me if it’s hot enough to go, and every day I say no. Not because I want to deprive them of all the fun they might be having, but because this is the place where nightmares and chaos collide.

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The other day I gave in to their endless pleas and I packed up my mom bag, and took them, and they played in the shallow water and splashed their knees and floated on their backs, and I actually had tiny flickers of peace.

So maybe we’ll come back.

 

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I’m ready for the summer.

I need it. Because I’m cozy right now, my home is quiet with a sleeping pug next to me and a sleeping Hudson in his bed, but in 30 minutes, I have to get up, leave this indent on the couch that my ass worked very hard at, wake up Hudson (groan), and pick Berlyn up from preschool.

Blah.

Preschool.

I’m ready for that to be done.

She’s ready too.

She’s ready to be a kindergartner, but nope. She has to be in preschool for another week and a half, which means my mind will be mentally checked out and daydreaming of beaches and green otter pops while I’m driving to pick her up every day. Which also means that I might just drive past her school and straight to the ocean, and I’m sorry, but you’re going to need to call my mom and have her pick up Berlyn, and they can meet Hudson and me here. Thanks, here’s a grape otter pop. It’s a good one, I promise, and it tastes nothing like expired children’s medication.

Because I need more days at the beach.

Especially after a night like last night. Oh my gosh, you guys, I ALMOST DIED! Seriously. I woke up wheezing and panting for breath. I’ve struggled with asthma my entire life, and I’d like to give my mom a round of applause for smoking while pregnant. I, on the other hand, gasp and cough if someone even smokes within 25 feet from me, but not my moms, she lives right there on the edge. I can picture her 31 years ago, with a cold Pepsi and a hankering for nicotine, smacking her smokes against her palm and lighting up while sporting a gigantic pregnant belly. Classy lady. Naturally, I had Pneumonia a few times before I turned three, AND also suffered from 237 asthma attacks. I remember once having to spend a Christmas in a clear plastic tent in the hospital just like that final scene in E.T. I think it was when Drew Barrymore handed E.T. a handful of Reese’s Pieces, and at that moment, I knew exactly how E.T. felt, coincidentally, it was also the moment that I began my love affair with any and all peanut butter candies. Except for the candy where the peanut butter is too chalky. Plaah.

All that to say, I’ve handled my quirky lungs my entire life, and for the past 5 years or so they’ve been alright. So I’ve thrown away all my inhalers, and cut the safety net out from under me.

So you can imagine my horror when I woke up at 1:00 AM last night gasping for breath. I went straight for the bathroom medicine cabinet, and feverishly searched for something to clear my air ways. I was sure there was an old inhaler somewhere in there, behind the tampons and neti pot, but no. Nothing.

I guess all my panting and hacking and shoving things around in the bathroom cabinet woke my husband up, which is weird because that man can sleep through anything. Seriously.

So anyways, he woke up and was all, WTF woman? Except he didn’t say that at all, because he doesn’t talk like he’s on the cast of Jersey Shore.

But you get the picture.

And I replied, “I (wheeze) can’t (wheeze) breathe (wheeze).” Which may have been a slight over-reach, because I could breathe, it just hurt a lot, it felt like that fat German kid that eats all the chocolate in Willy Wonka was sitting on my chest, and he wasn’t even sharing his chocolate bar with me. And if hurts to breathe this much, I’d at least like a square of chocolate to take my mind off the fact that I may or may not be dying, gosh, you’re so selfish Augustus Gloop. And wipe your mouth, you look like a damn idiot.

Not having chocolate makes me surly.

Also what makes me surly: not being able to breathe properly.

So Pat woke up, and I was like, here’s the deal, I’m not going to the emergency room because I don’t want to put on a bra and the people in the waiting room always make me sad. Plus I’d have to go alone, and I hate waiting alone, I’d get bored.

This list all made a lot of sense to Pat and me at 1:30 in the morning, so instead my husband did the most romantic thing he’s ever done-

He put on pants,

….and went to CVS in the middle of the night to search the isles for something to help me.

I didn’t even ask him, he just did it.

I don’t think I would have done that, I’d just roll back into my cozy spot in the bed and tell him to figure it out.

He came back from the 24 hour drug store with this steam vaporizer thing you stick your face in, and I think it burnt all my nose hairs off, which is fine, because nose hairs are so not cute. So you stick your face in it and all this hot steamy steam goes up your nose and you breathe in this minty stuff for like 15 minutes.

And it worked.

Thank you Jesus.

And I didn’t have to go to the E.R.

Yay.

Seriously, it’s depressing. Everyone there has the sad eyes, and they have blood stains on their shirt, and I don’t want to sit next to someone with SARS. Gross.

So even though last night, I didn’t get my normal 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep, I did learn a few things:

1) My husband is good to have around when I need medical assistance.

2) I should not all of a sudden take up smoking

3) Wearing a bra blows

4) And maybe I should get an inhaler, just in case because:

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The Edge of the Universe

Being pregnant, I can’t help but feel like I’m always standing on the edge. My toes curl around the rocky cliff I’m standing on, and I watch as tiny pebbles peel away from the landscape and cascade into the unknown.

I’m waiting to leap; to fly, with the wind on my back.

But when the time comes, I’ll probably cough on my own saliva, hesitate, look behind me, and take one tiny step– a shuffle really.

Because I’m scared.

I’ve done this before, twice even. Babies are easy. It’s what happens after they’re babies that terrifies me.

The unknown.

Berlyn is five, and that’s where my knowledge on children ends. I don’t yet know about wiggly teeth, slumber parties, sex talks, and boyfriends, periods, and bras.

I don’t know the argument, “but, all my friends are doing it.” I don’t know about homework, parent signatures, summer camps, or skateboarding ramps.

I don’t know what I’d say about dying hair, or writing on jeans, painting nails black, or wearing clothes with well placed holes.

I know potty training, baby food, breast milk, and tricycles. I know car seats, strollers, diapers, crayons, and bath time.

I can do the baby stage, toddlers are fine, precious even, preschool age is a joy, but beyond that I don’t know. It’s the edge of the universe and all I can hear is the whirling of comets whizzing by my head, and the fizzy sounds of magnetic bubbles popping.

Then it’s quiet, and it’s just my thoughts…

What if I’m not good at being a parent of a school aged child? And now I have to do it three times? What if I’m too harsh when they need me to be gentle? What if I don’t point out a defining teachable moment? What if I make brownies and I was supposed to bring cupcakes, or I don’t get along with PTA mommies?

Although, I do find rest knowing that these things don’t happen overnight. I’m not going to wake up tomorrow and suddenly Berlyn wants to start dating and get her nose pierced, and Hudson’s not going to want a motorcycle, and a pair of leather pants (Oh, God please don’t give my children any desire for leather pants, they are unflattering on everybody–that means you too, Heidi Klum).

Before all that they’re going to want to run in the sprinklers, and they’ll let me hug them in public, and they will blow on dandelions, and sneak cookies.

And I’ll watch over them and I’ll smile, I’ll take too many pictures, and mentally try to remember the smell of play-doh hands, and sandy feet. And they’ll learn to be children, and tie laces, eat too many goldfish crackers, and do the things that children do. They’ll run so fast that all I can see is a flash of color and a stream of hair, and then I’ll tackle them to the grass and tickle their faces, because those are my faces, and my ears will overflow with the sounds of their giggles, then it will get quiet, and in that moment, the edge doesn’t seem as scary.

And somehow, it’s working

Lately, oh sweet lately, this amazing thing has happened with my children.

They play together… for hours.

Sure, they’ve played together before. They play the cherished game of Who Had it First, and let’s not forget their personal favorite, Stop Copying Me! And that usually ends in screams and tears, and OH MY GOSH, IS THERE BLOOD? IS ANYONE’S BRAINS LEAKING OUT ON MY CARPET, THEY BETTER NOT BE BECAUSE I JUST HAD THEM CLEANED!? No, no blood, all brain fluids are intact, but I had it first, mommy!

But now, there’s been a sea change, a click, a small motion towards friendliness, a gesture in kindness, and a realization that the other one isn’t the enemy. They truly are each other’s best friend.

I was always worried that having three years in between them would be doing them a disservice. That they would grow apart, not together, but they don’t really have the option, and they don’t know any different. And when this baby comes, it will be nearly three years younger than Hudson, and close to six years younger than Berlyn, but I know that somehow they will all still chase bubbles, play in cardboard boxes, sing and dance, and fiercely love each other, because they don’t really have the option.

Because siblings are forever.

 

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reading

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Hudson’s bright eyes dazzle when we pick up Berlyn from school.

And Berlyn can’t contain herself when she hears that Hudson is awake from his nap.

Now, I know this isn’t permanent. I know that I’ll turn around and in an instant, Hudson will be biting the fleshy part of Berlyn’s arm, or Berlyn will be trying to feed Hudson dog food. But for now things are civil, and I’d like to stay in this perfect land of daffodils and rainbow icing. Because it feels right.

In our home saying, “I love you” isn’t an option. Neither is saying, “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you.”

We practice selflessness, and respect, and being grateful.

And somehow, by the grace of God, it’s all working.

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Just thought I’d share…

I bought the wrong butter.

It’s like some lame-o at the butter making factory forgot to cut the butter into nice rectangular sticks.

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Instead my butter is one big brick. And now I have to do all the butter cutting myself, and I am very unqualified for such a task. Which means, I do it wrong, and don’t even ask me to make you cookies because my butter measurements will be super wonky, and if I was going to go through all this trouble for butter anyways, I’d just churn it up myself.

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It would seem easy enough to quarter it, but let me tell you it’s tough work. Plus you have to unwrap it first, and then you lose all your measurements, and then you ask yourself, “does this look like the right size for a normal stick of butter?” And then you start in with the existential butter wonderings, what is normal for butter anyways? It doesn’t seem fair to place butter in a box, maybe what is normal for me, isn’t normal for butter…Why do I even need butter right now? Do aliens in space need butter? Does anyone REALLY need butter?

And the answer is YES. They answer is always yes. Especially when you’ve fallen hard off the vegan wagon due to a certain gestational condition.

Then there’s the wrapping it up once you cut a hunk out of it. The original wrapper doesn’t fit anymore, and the trouble of trying to find the correct receptacle is too much work.

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Does this look like it’s going to stay fresh?

I submit that it does not.

Who needs one pound butter bricks anyways? Professional bakers? Don’t they just go to speciality stores?

Butter N’ Stuff –Where you can buy butter and stuff. 

On the plus side, it was was super cheap. Which should have been a red flag for me at the store, but I just thought, hey, this is Costco, things are cheap here. Oooh, Snack Packs!

So beware of super cheap butter, because it’s gonna suck for you in the long run, and don’t try to pawn off any of your your mis-measured butter cookies to me.

Because I told you so.

Yeecck.

Hudson’s Room

Hudson transitioned from a crib into a bed recently, and we thought that if he’s going to be in a big boy bed now, he needs a big boy room to match.

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So we headed over to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for their monthy flea market to be inspired…

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Pat vetoed these British chairs because he thinks they’re over done, but I think they’re brilliant.

I still want them.

Here’s what we ended up with:

  • Pendleton Wool Blanket
  • Rope
  • Pulley
  • Salvaged wood shelf
  • Army Surgery trunk that dated back to the 1920′s (But it had paint chipping off, so I didn’t want to bring it into Hudson’s room, instead Pat happily put it in his office)
  • And half of an old canvas army tent that we still haven’t figured out what to do with yet.

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We painted a Mark Twain quote on his wall.

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We put up the feather decal when we were decorating Hudson’s nursery before he was born. We kept it, because A) I like it, and B) when people see it they think I painted it…and sometimes I let them believe that.

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We were inspired by the Ace Hotel, the flea market, the sea, and old army stuff.

We finally finished, and while it’s no Ace Hotel, Hudson likes it, and that’s really all that matters.