I talk so much about disability on this site, and how I define myself as “disabled.” Not meaning of course that I can’t do anything; rather than I have a duality in my physical existence: the way that my body is and the world around me. I’ve also talked about how I see travel and disability overlapping. Disability is a strong aspect of my personal culture, but so too is being a third culture kid.
What “third culture kid” means is that I was brought up outside the US, by parents who were from a culture other than the ones I was raised in. That’s me being raised in Fiji and Hawaii by parents from the Berkeley area, and then in Japan and Taiwan by myself (before I was 18, as well as after).
Being a third culture kid is the big, huge, enormous thing that Mikey and I have in common. Besides the fact that we love each other eternally (and have 3 kids together), it’s probably why we’ll never split up: it’s too hard to find other people like us. He was raised in the Philippines, New Zealand, France, Ghana, Bangladesh and the US.
Both of us are used to moving a lot. Not necessarily traveling full-time like the Bumfuzzles (a family whose blog I love to follow), but like setting down, living for 3-4 years in one place, then leaving. And repeat. And repeat.
I’ve been getting itchy feet, right along with Mikey, and I can’t tell if it’s the rain or the effect of growing up as a third culture kid. Like, is the constant, incessant rain and dealing with walking to the outhouse in the mud and downpours getting to me, or is it that we’ve lived here for over 3 years now, so our internal clock is ticking and telling us to move on?
For anyone who is a third culture kid, you know what a hard call this is. Are you making up annoying things to be annoyed at because you feel like it’s time to move, or are you genuinely annoyed at it, or is it just the rain and it’s all going to pass?
I really don't know
But I do know that when I’m driving uphill (or down, for that matter) and the car tires sink down in.one.more.huge.pothole and the body sort of slides around in the mud a little, potholes so bad that (as Mikey quotes an NPR piece on Zimbabwe) “only drunk drivers go straight,” and I’m thinking, ‘nuh-uh… I’m over this.”
Is it the rain?
Or is it 3 years?
Mikey says it the amount of rain in such a short period of time, plus the dirt mountain roads.
There have been a few time recently where I’ve been almost desperate to laugh. On my hill up there on the Lost Coast, with my kids and husband visiting my mother in law, I did what most anyone (without streaming ability) would do – I reached for my satellite TV remote control and started cruising channels, trying to find something funny.
It was ridiculously easy to find something violent. Almost everything on is violent, and not just violent, but violent. Like, in every sense of the word – psychologically violent, physically violent, spiritually violent. Our culture is draped in violence (and some wonder why we’ve got the shooting problem?!), and any quick stroll through the TV guide makes that crystal clear.
But this post isn’t about that. I don’t want to talk about that because it reminds me of how Dana died.
I want to talk about laughing.
I want to laugh. I want to have those huge laughs that make me cry and my stomach ache.
So I went to Comedy Central (satellite TV comes with cable) and it was boring and stupid. Same with the shows that were on MTV and other channels that were supposed to be funny. They weren’t. Watching something that’s supposed to be funny and isn’t makes me all kinds of annoyed.
I ended up wandering over to Roseanne – the early shows – because those are guaranteed to make me laugh at some point, even if I’ve already seen them all before. Then I found Tracy Ullman and that got a few laughs, same with the Graham Norton Show. That was it, though – I don’t remember if I ran out of time because the kids and Mikey came home (that’s probably what happened) or I just got tired of trying to find something funny so I settled for a movie from the 80’s (no wait, that’s what happened!).
Seriously real though: what the heck?! Why are we choosing all this gun shit over a good laugh? How did that even happen? Where did all the funny people go? I miss them.
In the meantime, the election is happening tomorrow – no joke – and so long as Hillary wins, maybe I’ll be able to relax with my remote control and review stuff from this past few months that will be funny with perspective? The Martha Stewart & Snoop Dogg Show also looks promising.
There is nothing like a crisis for making social media meaningful.
I mean, day in and day out, it’s just an information clearinghouse and news board. Then something huge happens and reading each and everyone’s comment of love and support means the world to me, when all I want to do is crawl into a hole and wake up with this all having been one horrible nightmare.
Dana had another surgery
They worked on patching up his innards, and fixing up his femur. The latter was infected and the former was probably causing his sepsis. So with both fixed, he should hopefully be out of the woods. Fingers crossed and laced in prayer.
I keep thinking we’re in Canada.
The hospital staff are so polite and friendly, it’s virtually un-American. I mean, everyone in this place is ridiculously nice. Example: I only had a large bill to pay for our lunch at the cafeteria – they didn’t have change, so the janitor paid for our lunch.
Then – my huge stroller was hogging up the aisle and an orderly wanted by and said “excuse me, I’m sorry” so many times, you would have thought he was the one inconvenience me. I was shocked.
There’s a level of kindness here that I have never experienced before in a hospital. It’s laughable comparing their sweet mottos and little slogan-signs of human-kindness (“being kind is good for you!”) with Oakland Kaiser’s “get well or die fast” vibe. I’m infinitely glad that Dana got this end of the stick. And infinitely glad that, by extension, we all did too.
I have never experienced the ICU before.
Despite the fact that Moxie and I both have disabilities, we are perfectly healthy and always have been (knock on wood). The rhythm of it is foreign to me, and the sway of emotions unfamiliar. The day begins with fresh shock – ‘oh shit, this is NOT a dream…’ and seeing Dana and the absolute sorrow over his pain, and over this stupid, senseless horrific event that will certainly change his life.
By the end of the day, peace is made with it all – and every tiny up-swing in his healing is celebrated and blown up until we all feel like everything is going to be just fine. We go to sleep. And wake up, and it all begins again.
You’d think my Mom would have dissolved over this. She lost both of her parents only months ago.
But she has risen to it like good cream in a cup of milk. She’s camping out in the waiting room and developing iron in her knees from kneeling on them in prayer. We are all so grateful to her, and to Yu Han, Dana’s eldest daughter.
Yu Han has taken over all of the phone calls, the nitty-gritty management of the details of insurance, of payments, of “regular life” that kind of rake over your brain and make your pores scream. And she’s doing all of this with her heart in agony over Dana lying in the ICU, working through his walk to the edge of the woods.
I have so much admiration for her.
The kids are still champs.
Oh sure, Moxie still does stuff like she did last night, where she takes off running while laughing hysterically at my scrambles to find her while paying for the wipes at the CVS register (because I’m trying to clean the ‘fix a flat’ explosion in the car from the 108 degree heat here). And sure, the kids seem to time their bathroom visits to where they stagger each other because I wasn’t really paying attention the first time around (and made them all go at the same time!), so I end up escorting them to the bathroom roughly 5 million times a day. And sure there have been some tantrums and Mack still takes about half an hour to decide on what he needs to wear every day (and is a total drama queen over each fold that I did not make over his pants or shirt), BUT OVERALL, the kids have been champs!
I read the “The Four Agreements,” not that long ago and the approval piece in it struck me. It talks about the fact that our quest for approval from others – and training our kids to seek out our own approval – stops us all from listening to our own inner compasses. You know what I’m saying?
It’s like, we grow up and our teachers and parents are saying things like, “oh, that’s bad” or “I like that” – and then we change our behaviors based on their approval or disapproval. What sucks about that is that by doing so, we stop listening to our own hearts. We do things or don’t do things because of external approval, not necessarily because our own inner guidance system is saying to do it or not do it.
Most parents and teachers don’t know any better – it’s how they were raised too. Even if they do know better – as my parents did – it’s a hard, hell of a hard, habit to break. The desire to lay approval or disapproval down is fierce; “that’s good” or “that makes me so happy!” come readily to parental lips. I know they come to mine.
I don’t want that.
I want my kids to learn to listen to their own hearts and feel out their inner navigational system. I want their connection with God – or Source, the Universe (whatever you want to call it) to be so strong that they use that guidance to center and tether themselves. Not me nor my approval, and not anyone else either. I want them to listen to themselves. To really, truly listen to themselves.
While I know this, I struggle with the HOWs. How to do this? How to help them hear their own inner compass? How to guide them without laying on all of my own approval/disapproval? And how on earth to do this while teaching them good manners?!
How do I raise my kids to be free thinking kids, but not feral?
I know my mom and dad struggled with this same question. I know they wanted my brother and I to be free thinkers too.
I understand the things that they tried with us now, all of the exercises and ways of thinking and talking to get us to THINK FOR OURSELVES, I understand all of those repeat-back things they did with me when I was growing up like, “so if I’m hearing you, you would like to – blahblahblah – ?” which would drive me NUTS because it was never a yes/no thing. I had to THINK FOR MYSELF – arrgggghhhhhhhhhhh.
Anyway. I’m there now. Repeating Micah’s questions to get him to THINK FOR HIMSELF and feeling the deja vu and sensing there are better ways of doing this.
The Feral Fall
One thing that I slip into thinking is that if I don’t tell my kids very clearly and plainly what to do all the time, if I let them make their own choices, they will become like wild animals. I think most of us think that. There is this super strong notion that if we gave kids a choice, they’d lean on the side of marshmallows and violence. Or, in a class setting, that it would be all recess and no math.
I tend to agree with that when I’m not thinking. When I am thinking, I know for a fact that it’s not true, because years ago, I put it to the test. I gave my second grade students a choice in what they wanted to do every day, and kept track of their choices. The kids, even at that tender age of 7, had a very clear sense of their academic and physical strengths and weaknesses, and brilliant ideas as to how to address both. It just took a LOT of listening and paying attention to them to flesh it all out.
So, looking at my own kids now, I know that they know what they need and want. I know that they have great internal navigational systems, inner compasses that are tethered to Source (or God, or the Universe, whatever you want to call it). It’s a matter of me helping them to tune into that.
I’m trying to figure out the language pieces. Like, what do I say when Mack’s pulling Moxie’s hair or when she grabs his toy and throws it out of the car window? When Micah gets up and gets water for his siblings at mealtime without being asked, how can I express the awesomeness of his action without it coming back to ME and MY approval (or ME and MY disapproval!)?
On August 22, 2011, Micah was 3 years old and I wrote the following post here on this blog:
In the random way that conversations start in our place, the subject of the Tooth Fairy popped up as dinner was wrapping up last week
Micah (M): I don’t want to lose my tooth!
Mikey: it won’t hurt at all, it just comes out and then you put your tooth under your pillow and the TOOTH FAIRY flies over and gets it for her HOUSE, because you see her whole house is made of teeth and she can build new rooms with new teeth she gets
M: but I don’t want her to come
Mikey: you know, she gives you something in exchange for the tooth she takes: fair trade!
M: (slightly suspiciously) like what?
Mikey: well, it might be a little book or a train or some coins (you could just see him frantically scrambling to mentally find something not too pricey and not too unhealthy that was still attractive to Little Man)
M: coins? like a pirate?
Mikey: yes! like a pirate!
M: but I don’t want her to come!
Mikey: do you want to see a picture of her? see what she looks like?
Micah said yes, so I went to the computer and google-imaged up some photos of ‘tooth fairy’. Micah didn’t like the white lady with the blonde hair, so we stuck with the cartoon figure with the whacky grin.
Me: you like her? okay, so she’ll be your tooth fairy!
Mikey: and you will be all right with seeing her in a few years?
Micah: NOOOOOOOO, I don’t want her to come in my room! I need to put up a sign on my door so that NO TOOTH FAIRY will come in
Mikey: okay, no problem, just put a sign on the door to let her know that
Micah: the sign will say, X, A, D, O and that will spell,
“NO TOOTH FAIRY CAN COME IN”
read this: NO TOOTH FAIRIES ALLOWED
4 Years Later, he lost 2 two teeth, in rapid succession of each other, both in New York City.
We decided to wait till we got back home to request a visit from the Tooth Fairy, and unfortunately, um… I lost the teeth. He wasn’t as against the Tooth Fairy as he had been at 3, but he was kind of half-assed about the entire thing. So it just fell through the cracks.
Nearly ONE YEAR LATER, he lost his third tooth.
Since Micah is now very interested in money and the possibilities of exchanging his teeth for some, he wanted to establish a relationship with this Entity.
He wrote to the Tooth Fairy:
to: tooth fairy
I have lost two teeth but, I have Lost them. In this envelope is a inscisser. Love, Micah
So, he was sort of trying to see if he could garner any sympathy from her for the two lost teeth! Right on, kid.
IThe Tooth Fairy gave him $20 for all 3 teeth – and wrote so – and he was so inspired by this financial windfall that he wiggled out his 4th tooth the next day or so:
Another letter was written.
I completely forgot about the tooth and my responsibilities in the matter and was lying in the bed the next morning, idly scrolling through my phone pictures when I saw that gem (above). And freaked out.
Thank God he’s such a heavy sleeper though!
So then, after breakfast, Micah turns to me and says, “Mommy, isn’t it interesting that the envelopes that I use to write to the Tooth Fairy and put my tooth in are the same brand that the Tooth Fairy uses to reply with?”
I missed Grandma so much while I was sitting on that bench, remembering how Grandma was sitting next to me the last time I was there.
She kept calling me “Diana,” (I look a lot like my mom now; I’ll take that as a compliment). She wanted me to fetch her a banana from the toy co-op. I said, “Grandma, it’s not a real banana” – she said she didn’t care, she’d still like to have it. I said I couldn’t give it to her because this was part of the play museum. She shook her head, laughed with those dimples popping, and said, “well, I’ll be… what is this?!”
It’s a different world, Grandma, that’s what it is.
It’s a world where we pay to have things nice and tidy for our kids, things that smack of learning and education and fair play. It’s not the one where you ran free in Oakland with your cousin and some pennies and watched movies in theatres by your own small selves.
It’s also a world with anatomically correct dolls.
I had gotten a little flustered the last time I was there because Moxie had a blowout in her pullups, Grandma was mad because I was gone (cleaning up Moxie), and she also wanted to go to the bathroom, then I was worried about her in the bathroom alone. I checked on her. Okay. Then Mack had to go, and his was all about poop too. I hadn’t slept much the night before – Grandma needed to get up most of the night – I felt worn at the ends, frazzled, drained, and I didn’t mind it at all because I knew that each moment with Grandma – crazy or not – was a gift.
I am grateful that I felt that.
When I was sitting on the bench last week, I was glad that my memories aren’t laced with any recollections of feeling annoyed with Grandma, or impatient, or anything. I am glad I only remember how much love for her I felt on that day, on every day that I was around her.
My Grandma loved me best.
Oh, okay, maybe she actually didn’t (?), but she always made me feel like I was her favorite, that I was the best thing since sliced bread. There is so much comfort in that. I think more than anything, I want everyone to know what that feels like. To know that there is one person in your world, in your life, who thinks your shit doesn’t stink. Or if your shit does stink, there’s probably some marvelous reason for it stinking, because you are essentially just the most marvelous person, ever. No matter what.
Last week Moxie bolted out of the Discovery Museum, and of course it was a moment in which I wasn’t looking. This little gaggle of concerned mothers came to me as I was downloading something onto the iphone and said, “your daughter just ran out of the door” (which they had to repeat, like 5 times because I couldn’t hear them or read their lips well). I writhed in shame. Bad mom, horrible no-good, tech-obsessed mom.
Moxie was back in (on her own) by the time they were done being concerned with me, and I took her gently by the shoulders and said, “you just can’t run out, honey.” She said, “why?”, I said “because we are in here – you need to stay with me. We are playing inside here, now. ” She said, “ok” but I have no idea how much she actually understood. I asked her if she wanted to leave. She said, “no.” So then I said that if she didn’t want to leave, she needed to stay inside. If she wanted to go, just tell me; we’ll go. Okay? “Okay.”
But I put the phone completely down and away. Just in case.
I was proud of how she played and basically covered every living inch out of every single item there. Puppet show? Check
Kaleidescope? Check. Ball-over-blast-of-air? Check. Bike-powered stoplights? Check. Golf-ball-ramp? Check. She didn’t waste time. She literally played with EVERY SINGLE THING. I can’t say that about anyone else there.
Back to Grandma.
The death of someone loved isn’t just a loss; it’s an absence. It’s the not being there, the physical space that was once occupied by them, now empty. It’s my Grandma’s chair blanket that once made her butt warm, it’s her cat, Hester, that is still so sad, looking everywhere for Grandma’s bright smile and kind, petting hands.
I try not to think of her absence. It sounds really cheesy and all new-agey to say this, but I try and focus on the fact that I lost her in her physical form, but I’ve gained the best damn angel-protector-guardian anyone could ever have. Nobody’s going to watch over me like my Grandma!
I don’t even know where to start! I guess I’ll just jump on in.
9 more ducks arrived before we left! NINE! That brings our count to 14. Which is kind of funny when you consider that we never planned on having ducks, at all. I hope they are going to be okay.
We headed on down to the Bay Area, a total breeze. I kept wanting to take notes in my head for a post on how much easier it is to travel with a partner – what a piece of cake potty breaks are, how peachy absolutely everything is. I had it all written in my head, but of course I forgot it after we arrived.
This is Mack and Moxie at Mikey’s grandma’s house – they are drawn to everything they can break. We didn’t stay too long. But long enough to spend some time with his grandma, auntie and uncle. We really love them.
Mikey’s grandma is 92 years old, the same age as my Grandpa Jack:
My family got together (- meaning, my brother Dana drove down with 3 of his kids, his daughter in law and his grandson) to celebrate his birthday
It was laid back, but awesome because we never have enough time together.
I don’t know about you, but I remember a bunch of weird crap from when I was a kid. It’s so random – like, those 25 lb bags of carrots that my mom used to buy for us to snack on, and how I ate so many that I could see in the dark something fierce.
I have no idea what my kids are going to remember from this lushly weird childhood that we are giving them. I sure hope it’s going to be good stuff.
Like… I hope they remember how they enjoyed saying, “hi!” to each and every person as we waited to see the doctor – and how the faces of those that they greeted lit up in surprise and delight by their cheerful friendliness.
I hope they remember how much FUN they made each and every playground visit. How they ruled those small spaces and absolutely wrung out every bit of joy they could.
I hope they remember stopping to look at flowers with me. I hope they think of me when I’m old, and think of flowers.
Like I think of them and think of sunshine and bright light.
I hope their memories with one another blend together in a long stream of togetherness and solidify like colorful jello.
In the midst of all this, I hope they know I tried.
Most of the time, I feel like I’m herding, yelling, nourishing, dressing, praising, admonishing them. It’s like this endless –‘ing. I feel like “no” comes to my lips faster than any “yes” and that bothers me a lot.
I don’t want to be that kind of mother.
But I also don’t want my kids eating crap all day long while being tethered to some device.
“no”, “no”, “NO!”
I honestly try. I try to rise above my “no’s”, I try to get things going and keep them moving in a happy way. I don’t know if this will be the one thing that they will just happen to remember, you know? Like how I remember the bag of carrots from my own childhood.
Solo parenting kicks my ass and I don’t know how single mothers do it.
At least I have Mikey around SOME of the time; at least I have him full time for 5 months of the year.
But it’s lonely. And it’s hard.
Then somehow we slip into these grooves – like, where the kids just seem to understand me (and I, them) so well – we are on this higher level of intuitiveness. We just seem to gel and I don’t have to actually say much anymore.
And then… oh, it’s so sweet.
Like they are sponges dipped in water, soaking it up, soaking it up. And when I need it, they just pour it right back.
You know those close up looks at open, oozing wounds that people take and post on Facebook? The pictures of their rashes or their kid’s diseases that are virulent, raw, and jump pretty horrifically out of your feed at you? Yeah, well, I hate that crap. That’s right up there on my list of pet peeves in social media.
So I won’t be posting pictures of my poison oak, because let me tell you: this is oozing, blistering, nasty, bumpy, red and horrible looking. It would jump out of your feed something fierce and you’d likely have some nightmares over it.
But I *will* show you the plant that caused it:
So pretty. So innocuous looking. So much pain held within those tender green leaves.
It has spread ALL OVER my left arm – I’m talking, from my armpit (of all places) down to my wrist, in splotches. And the left bottom of my back. And my right is itchy too. Bumps on my belly. There are bumps that I can resist scratching all through the day that I apparently scratch in my sleep and make this show go on. And on. And on.
This helps a lot.
If I had washed myself in this soap immediately after exposure to poison oak (- which, living where we do, means just using it daily), I would have caught it in it’s tracks. As it was, I didn’t know, it grew. It’s just misery.
What helps the most strangely enough, is taking hot showers. Our shower water comes straight from the springs on our property and the water is heated by our little propane heater. The water gets HELLA hot, but it’s outside and it’s cool outside, so the contrast is really wonderful. Now, with poision oak, the hot water evidently heats up the resins in my skin – I can actually feel them bubbling around – then they get stimulated so it’s almost unbearable. It’s like that feeling that you have when you want to sneeze – know what I’m talking about? – and you can’t. By tenfold. And under your skin. It’s total agony, then it goes away, and the itching goes away with it, for a few hours.
I’m waiting for the calamine lotion and aloe vera gel. They are supposed to help. The baking soda didn’t. It felt nice and cool and I wanted to scratch it. I didn’t try the vinegar/water.
On the bright side of my body, my broken foot is SO MUCH BETTER. I can walk with hardly a limp and only twinges of pain. Yesterday I actually noticed that it had been a few hours since I had felt my foot at all! This is exciting. Cue dreams of marathon running.
Other stuff from our corner of the world:
Super Hero Training Camp.
Uh huh, really! The Best School Ever hits another home run
Other news: the roses are doing great, the chickens are getting lots of worms, Mack is happy with life in general and with accessories in particular, and cows are just too frickin’ cool.
It was Micah’s birthday first – then Moxie’s. Mack thought it was his, too! Mikey and I trailed along, so did the chickens. And May Day. And these flowers blooming all over the Lost Coast. And perfect life in a flannel-laced paradise with hummingbirds!
We took my Grandpa Jack out to celebrate his 91st birthday while we were in the Bay Area.
Grandpa Jack holds a special place in our lives. He’s the grandfather figure for not just Mikey and I; he’s also the grandfather figure for Micah and the kids.
I know I wrote about this the last time we left, but there is always this poignant component when leaving a loved one to travel, wondering if we’ll see each other again in this world. If this is it, really goodbye? Or not. Another reminder to enjoy every moment and not take anything for granted.
Eat the cake first.
We ate at Spengers which is an East Bay institution. Grandpa loved going there years ago on a regular basis, so it was pretty sweet to see how happy he was. And of course, Moxie went nuts with the nautical stuff!
The next day we met with Mikey’s family and his Grandma (who is also 91).
We ate first.
And then enjoyed time with his Grandma, who gave the kids thoughtful gifts (Dora for Moxie, who was shaking as she opened it and saw), Star Wars legos for Micah (who can think of little else) and a fat-lego train for Mac-Q, “choooo! chooo!”.
It was sad to say goodbye.
We love these people, family we were born to and family we were lucky enough to marry into.
I’m all over the place right now. Discombobulated, scattered and there are so many things I want to talk about – the training center! My new service dog! The way Moxie puffs out her cheeks to blow bubbles and the way that Mac-Q runs after them
Micah is an amazing big brother – all of his natural virtues of being cautious, analytical and sensitive – as well as his being the Leader type – serve him and his siblings so well.
They are lucky to have him.
He is lucky to have them.
We’re all just plain ole’ lucky, aren’t we?!
The training center was as magical as a training center can get. I mean, WOW.
It was 100% accessible and I haven’t actually ever stayed at a place that was 100% accessible before. The TV’s all turned on with the closed captioning! The doors had lights on them, the alarm clocks vibrated and it was kind of heavenly to just have everything so…. easy.
I don’t realize how much I struggle until I don’t have to and it’s this enormous relief to just be able to RELAX. From the hearing end, I was able to do that at the training center, but from the kid-watching end, it was CONSTANT, non-stop and absolutely exhausting.
I literally could not have done it without my mom watching the kids while I was training, and I also could not have done it had the training center itself not been so mind-blowingly hospitable, accomodating and generous. They had a library completely tricked out with things kids like and let our hooligans do their hooliganing there.
I wanted to take photos of all the pieces that were so fabulous to be about the place: the access, the lights, the library, the wheelchair accessible stoves – how everything was built with the concept of Universal Design in mind and that makes me happy on an almost primal level.
But I didn’t.
Because I was just too tired everyday.
I am so glad I did this.
I’m so glad we all did this.
So glad we have Kiana now.
I have a million more things to say but it’s 7:38 what do you know? The kids are up and things need to happen. You know how it is. Mad life is happening and you wonder what possessed you to have children?!
– hope you are having a great week, the links for the Summer Blogging Series are still open – hop on if you can, you can post a link to something that is NOT part of the writing prompts too
We might be traveling full time, with new sights, smells and sounds surrounding us daily, but we are first and foremost a family.
We still have 3 little kids, 2 of whom are still in diapers. We still have to wipe butt, clean noses, feed these small people (2 of whom can and do try to throw food when they feel the urge).
Traveling doesn’t change the fact that we still have to chase after them, comfort their small wounds, resolve the indignities of having their special block stolen by another. Or dealing with the daily hell of naps, bedtimes, too-early mornings – all that – while we take in what the journey of the road. Like my Mikus likes to say, ‘same shit, different scenery‘.
This is what a pretty typical, generalized day looks like around here:
4-5am: Mikey and I wake up. He goes outside to make coffee and smoke his cigarette; I nurse MacQuinn
5:30 or so – I am outside too, Mikey and I drink coffee together. I then either exercise or write. He hangs out and reads or contemplates the nature of the universe or something equally big and profound. Or maybe he just sits and thinks about nothing.
6:30-7ish – kids wake up. KIDS WAKE UP. The forces are UNLEASHED. We get going with feeding, diaper changes, clothes put on, pj’s away, cleaning and all that. Mikey and I work as a team – both of us are usually at it – we’ll either take a child each and diaper/change/clothe that one, or one of us will do both diapers and the other will do both change/clothes. We like to shake it up like that. We take our kicks where we can get ’em! – Micah does everything on his own with just a little prodding from us.
From here on, there isn’t so much a time as a flow – it’s something like –
Breakfast: Mikey almost always makes breakfast. It’s either yoghurt/fruit or something with eggs. All kids eat together. Sometimes I am still writing/exercising and Mikey handles breakfast on his own. Mikey and I eat on the side, quickly, usually standing up or something.
If we are hitting the road that day, I’ll start packing up the things I take care of (- all electronics, all cords, cables, etc; books, clothes, toys, etc). I also – and this is important – get the road snacks ready, get Mac’s bottle for the road ready, water for all and a pack for layers (sweaters for everyone). I also make sure Pugsily’s food is someplace easy to reach. Then I’ll wrangle the kids while Mikey puts EVERYTHING else away, lowers the camper, disengages the propane, water, locks the boxes and secures the bikes.
We will be on the road by 10:30, 11 at the latest.
If we are not leaving that day, we play until 10:30/11 – walk around
…or explore, do artwork together, build something, play in the water. Good, enriching stuff. Then the kids usually want a snack or a drink, so we break for something very small before hanging out while Mikey makes lunch. Sometimes Mac-Q needs to nap around snacktime, and I’ll take him into the camper to nurse him down.
After lunch, we definitely engage in the nap hell. We try to get them to nap in the camper, which is the best solution, but only possible if everything lines up perfectly and if they have run around enough in the morning. What I mean by “everything lines up perfectly” is: if Moxie doesn’t scream and kick Mac in the face, if Micah (who usually just reads during this period) doesn’t decide he needs to poop right when the other two are closing their eyes, if Mac doesn’t thwack and re-rouse a drowsy Moxie, if someone doesn’t decide to come by and knock on our camper, if the wind doesn’t knock down the table outside – oh man, ANY of these things! All of them have happened and then some. It’s dicey.
If it doesn’t line up, well, we try to walk them to sleep in the Burley double, or we will carry one each in the Ergo/Kelty and walk.
We joke about putting them in their car seats, strapping them in, turning the engine on then turning it off – but we haven’t actually done it. Yet.
The nap part is such a pain in the butt – MAJOR BITCH – but without it, we will face two screaming banshees from HELL later, so it’s worth it to get them rested. If we are on the road that day, naps are taken care of. The kids always sleep part of the way. Definitely a plus for the road.
Moving on, the afternoon: we tend to do more play/walking around in the afternoon. If we find other kids to play with, we go for it.
When it comes time for Mikey to make dinner, we let the kids “play” on the their iPads – which is kind of a trick since their iPads are only decked out with highly educational apps, so “play” for Moxie is going to be her working on her handwriting (- and by the way, she is clearly teaching herself to read, just like Micah did) or reading a book or working on her phonics or sign language (- both are big favorites of hers) while Micah will “play” by completing a crossword puzzle, work on his Spanish or read. Moxie and Micah read a lot; we don’t particularly encourage this. It’s just one of those things. Mikey and I both read a lot, we’ve always had a lot of books available for the kids and the kids naturally take them up. I wish we could take credit for it, but… nah, who am I kidding?!
I spend time with Mac-Q while Moxie and Micah are tethered to their electronic friends. I play with him or read or do signing song things like ‘itsy bitsy spider’ or ‘row row row your boat’. His signing is coming along nicely and it’s so cute to see his chubby little hands trying to make the hand shapes!
Then we all eat.
Meals are something we are firm on. We all sit down for dinner. Same chairs, same table. We all sit down for lunch. The kids all sit down for breakfast. We need the things that we can be consistent about to be consistent. We need the kids to feel safe in the small rituals of daily life, even if their world around is almost constantly changing.
Meals are a constant. Meals do not change. We might eat out ocasionally, standing up at a taco stand to scarf down some delicious adobada but we are eating at the same time and we are eating together. This is very important to Mikey and I.
After dinner, we usually hang out and clean up a bit then I take the kids into the camper while Mikey finishes cleaning up and smokes. Then he comes in and we all watch an episode of Star Trek (or Magnum PI) and have some fruit or something sweet before we brush our teeth, get into pj’s and diapers and go to sleep.
If we are on the road that day, then what happens is, we arrive at a place after a few hours of driving (- we try not to drive more than a few hours a day because more than that is hard on the kids). I hang out with the kids while Mikey sets up the camper. This usually takes about an hour. From there, he cooks something quickly and we eat and relax.
Mikey does all of the cooking. He also does more than this fair share of cleaning up the dishes and stuff. I tend to do the bed making, clothes organizing, electronics organizing, organizing anything actually. This ship is too tight to have stuff not well organized at all times, so I am pretty busy with keeping things charged, wired, ready to run, put away and so forth.
So there you have it! Day in the life. Do you have any questions? Anything you want to know? Shoot!
Well, hmm. Today is the last day of 2013, the year that we are supposed to be flying our cars and hoverboards according to Back to the Future. I am thinking of the long lists that I’ve always written about this time of year – lists about what I hope to accomplish in the coming 365 days or so, lists about what I yearn for, dream of, fantasize about. Lists with dates to accompany the goals! Lists without ’em! Lists in cursive, lists in print, lists printed from lovely little Word documents. Lists, lists, lists.
But… well… guess what?
The other day I was walking behind Mikey.
I was carrying an antsy, whiny, half-crying MacQuinn while hyped up Moxie and overtired Micah were walking ahead.
It struck me all of the sudden: HOLY SHIT. I have a beloved.
That might seem achingly obvious to you all, but remember, I started this blog 6 years ago and it was called Finding Ruby’s Father. I was 34, a serial dater and had really given up hope of finding my one true love. In fact, I had signed up for orientation to be a foster mother because love/no love, I wanted to be a mother. And then somehow I met the most perfect person for me.
I have a beloved.
So then it struck me: HOLY SHIT. I also have THREE KIDS. Even starting as late as I did, I was blessed to have THREE kids! THREE! When I didn’t even think I might ever have one.
And then, whoah, MEXICO! I mean, we are somehow living out our scariest and most desired of dreams.
How wonderful is life? How amazing is life? How magical is the world?
Yeah. I was ready for unicorns to fly out of the sky and colour up some rainbows.
But really. So what kind of lists will I draw up this year? My goals? Dreams to work on?
The only one is this: I need to work on believing that everything and anything really can happen, that if we believe it, we’ll see it.
I don’t want to get too melodramatic but it’s true that there have been a lot of odds against every part of this: finding Mikey, having the kids, and making this here and now happen. If this can all happen, anything can happen.
While this is a fact, I tend to forget it and let the numbing effects of everyday life get to me. I lose sight of it, tend to not start to not really believe it anymore.
So, I need to believe this in my marrow and live the rest of my life with that belief as close as my life breath.
All the multi-site stuff still being ironed out, I thought I’d point you over to the “Family” section for a new post on a conversation with Micah, who was in his spaceship. It’s just one of those slice o’ life posts that are probably more for us than anyone (- because Micah totally cracks. us. up!!) Anyway, just click HERE and it will lead you THERE.
Moving on, I have an enormous sugar hangover today.
I took the kids – SOLO, I might add – to the Jelly Belly Factory yesterday. I took a look at the line, you know, with that sign that said, “the wait will be ONE HOUR from this point” and was going to turn around. Then I saw Micah’s face and sucked it up. He was in that perfect combination of earnest eagerness, “hope” and “anticipation” written all over his eyes and I couldn’t bear to dash it all. So we did it. I forgot the Ergo in the van and so had to carry a totally fussy Mack most of the way, Moxie was pretty disgruntled (- I couldn’t blame her though; the view from the stroller was primarily of really bad leg tattoos), but Micah?! Oh was he ever happy!
And that made it worth it.
Here’s some photos:
Have a great one!
(and that conversation with Micah on the spaceship? It’s HERE)
A note from Stella & Dot:
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A great big selfie to start that off. Keeping myself in the picture and all.
I’ve been something of a single parent recently. Mikey has got to focus on Myrtle right now – Myrtle being the name we chose our truck. Myrtle the Turtle. She Who Will Carry Us Far. She Who Will Carry Us Far Really, Really, REALLY soon.
You guys, the countdown is officially ON. We’re giving notice TODAY. Come one month, that Myrtle there is going to be home for quite a while.
A lot of of my nerves are frayed up, worn out and hypercharged. I’m sure you understand, it’d probably be the same for you if you were in my shoes. Only you are not, because you probably have more sense than I do. No, “hey honey, how about we head on down to Argentina OVERLAND?‘
Back to what I was saying about practically being a single parent these days.
Well, I’m not, not really and my heart belongs to each and every single parent out there because man, that shit is HARD.
3 kids beat me any day, every day.
But in between pulverizing me to a quivering wreck of mamaflesh, we’ve been having a lot of fun
Playing hard and long outside, with friends we see waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too seldom.
I don’t know what it is about kids and painting that just thrills me.
Oh maybe… that it’s kids and painting?!
Ha – or maybe it’s just them getting all grubby. For some reason that makes me feel more successful as a mother.
So we were out there, outside all day, every day for most of last week. Catching up with friends, catching up with ourselves, letting Mikey catch up with that Myrtle.
Mack is walking with support now – and Moxie is thrilled with playing ANYTHING that is related to catching and throwing a ball. That’s where they are. Micah is doing crossword puzzles and getting pissed off when people don’t want to be his minions. We’d better watch out, world.
I think that kind of catches us up.
I am hoping things will get normal on this here blog soon – like, I’ll get back to posting my Cool Cat series on Saturdays and things like that. But I suppose like everything else in life, it all evens out in the end, right?
It’s all good.
one of my all time favorite pictures. Story behind it: Micah was sitting there, Moxie went on out to sit with him. Mack came up from behind, Moxie noticed, grabbed him, put her arm around him and pulled him forward