Friday, August 27, 2010

Kate's Really Into Super Heroes Now

This afternoon the girls busted into the dress-up bin. I found them wearing all their dress-up clothes at once, they looked like Heidi in the fields. As Sarah sat yammering on to, I believe, the home's only remaining hermit crab, I reminded Kate of her declaration earlier this week. And I quote: I am done with princesses! I'm really into super heroes now.

At the mention of her edict, Kate looked sadly up at me. "Oh, Katie Lou, " I said, totally taken in, "you don't have to stick with that if you don't want to." She pursed her lips and reached up to me for the Lift & Hug. That move is getting harder and harder because she's growing like a weed, that one. She rested her head on my shoulder and sighed. "I'm going to miss the princesses" she said. Then, after a pause, she squeezed me tight and kissed my shoulder and said "you make me feel happy." At long last, I've discovered my super power.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I stepped outside with Monkey, into the still-dark morning and noticed a cool breeze for the first time in weeks and weeks. My brain puts everything to music and when I felt the cool, it sang "...summer's beginning to give up her fight..." as the song floated around in my head and I walked through the darkness with the pooch, I was transported back to the summer of 1994, where, in my brain, that song lives.

That summer Anni came to stay in my apartment in Richmond. It was that summer that my boyfriend moved out, and I realized all the furniture in the place had been his. While I was at work, Anni made me a "bed" using all the blankets and sheets (at least those were mine) on the bedroom floor where the real bed once stood. My parents, without ever once grumbling about how they never approved of my decision to live in sin, came to visit and brought a bunch of kitchen items for me. I still use some of those things they brought me to this day, and every time I do, I think of how grateful I was to get them back then. It was blistering hot that summer, as all summers in Richmond seem to be, and the apartment had no air conditioning. I frequently couldn't sleep because of the heat, and would get up and go sit on the front stoop, waiting for the infrequent breeze, thinking it was ironic that the air was so still in The Fan.

It's magical what the mind does for us, given time. The heat, the lack of furniture, the loss of love - those things troubled me back then. Thinking of it now, however, it stands out as one of my favorite summers on record. We went to see the Indigo Girls at Strawberry Hill; they'd recently released Swamp Ophelia. I worked double shifts at The Tobacco Company and Anni and I sometimes had beer and ice cream for dinner. Nothing about the time seems all that remarkable, but I remember it all so fondly. One year later, I met Jeremiah.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sleepy Sisters

Tonight's sleepy scene...
Reminded me of another one, not so long ago. The time, she flies.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Z is for Zillah...

...who drank too much gin.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Disney Unwittingly Makes Strong Argument for Staycation

I am relaying a conversation that Jeremiah shared with me, so I may miss some of the details, but you'll get the gist. Somehow, Kate came to view a television ad for Disney cruises. In it, the voice over explains that there are lots of thrilling things for parents to do on this outrageously huge ship, but that there is also a special place for kids 'where they can do whatever they want!'.

Kate's ears pricked up at that. "Oh!" she exclaimed to Jeremiah "does that mean we can do Inappropriate Things?" He didn't say as much to me, but I would bet that in the seconds before he responded to Kate, Jeremiah's whirring mind sounded the internal Emergency Broadcast Signal. I also can't remember exactly what he told me he said to her but I'm guessing it went a little something like this - "Er....".

And then he said something about there being limits

"But some of us might want to dance around naked!" she concluded, as if to say that if such an activity were not allowed in the kids' place 'where they can do whatever they want!' this was an example of false advertising. It is well known in our home that Kate is a big fan of dancing around naked (but not of peaches, she informed us last night. The rest of us just can't understand that). We let her do that at home, so you see, there is really no need to go on a Disney cruise, where she would not be permitted to do her naked dancing. So thank-you, Disney cruises, for the thousands of dollars you just saved us. I don't even need to a buy an outfit for dancing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cat's Out of the Bag

Kate brought this picture home from school yesterday. I pulled it out of her backpack while Jeremiah, Steve and Joy looked on, as we were preparing Monday Night Dinner. "This is nice, Kate" I said. "Who is it?"
"That's my Dad!" she responded.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Some Stuff the Kids Said

Last weekend, when we were out of food but hungry for breakfast, we took the troops over to Sun In My Belly for some deliciousness and, as it happened, some funk. As we were being seated Shaft! (damn right) was being served up with the coffee. As you know, that song's a sing-along, so Jeremiah took the Isaac Hayes parts and I sang back up. We'd gotten as far as:

-They say that Shaft's one bad mother-
-Shut your mouth!
-I'm talkin' `bout Shaft!
-We can dig it

when Sarah interjected. "You guys are creeping me out!"

The pizzas I picked up for the girls the other day each came with a juice box. I forgot about those when I fed the kids, so they were still siting in the fridge the following morning. I was forcing an Emergen-C on Kate, who was still a little stuffy about the nose, so she didn't drink hers for breakfast like Sarah did.
Unfortunately, I failed to mention the juice to Jeremiah, so when he brought the girls home that afternoon, and Sarah promptly opened the fridge, pulled out Kate's juice box and said "can I have this?" Jeremiah let her. Sarah tossed that thing back like a shot of bad tequila because she knew. Sure enough, when Kate saw the crumpled shell of a juice box that remained she protested, Kate-style. By the time I arrived home the girls were slack-jawed on the couch in the TV room, watching Star Wars for the first time ever. I gave them the usual cheerful greeting with kisses, but when they're in that state you can't really penetrate it. Sarah broke her trance long enough to say "um, hey mom, where are there more juice boxes?". Then Jeremiah told on her. The painful reminder of the lost juice caused Kate to become upset once again.
This morning Kate came padding into the bathroom where I stood at the sink. We exchanged our good mornings and I inquired about her breakfast preferences. "I'll tell you what I want" she said flatly. "I want my juice box that my sister drank." I told her I would buy her another juice box. Just her. "Yes!" she agreed, because her real thirst was for justice. "And I want to drink it right in front of her while she doesn't get one!" Kate's drink is justice, with a splash of revenge.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hump Day

Kate is still a little stuffy and weary, but I'll come back to that. First let's discuss pizza.

Yesterday morning, Jeremiah and I realized too late, we'd failed to remove the meat we'd plan to grill from the freezer. That effectively put the kibosh on our dinner plans. Last weekend, Pam (holla!) told me that the pizza joint in Toco Hills, Uncle Maddio's, which I can easily pass on my way home, serves gluten free pizza. It's been over a year since I've been able to admit menu defeat and just order myself a slice of pizza and call it a night. So, I checked this place out online. Sweet merciful delights! Not only do they have gluten free crusts, but their signature pizzas looked tasty and I could just order what I wanted online, then show up en route home and bring home pizza yet to be baked, but freshly constructed. Suck it, pilgrims, this century rocks!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, so I did that, but when I got there they'd made a mistake and instead of making me "take and bake" (niiiiice) pizzas, they'd cooked them. They simply re-did my order and let me have the cooked ones, which was very kind. I didn't want the cooked ones, but I was hungry and excited to taste the gluten free, so I took that one for sampling purposes. Gluten free pizza lovers of the world, unite! This pizza is so excellent I figured out how to cram it in my piehole while driving a stickshift!

Anyhoo. Seated at the dining room table, the girls enjoyed their own 6" pepperoni pizzas. I could tell Kate was fading. When dinner was over, we sat around chatting for a bit, then I retreated to the living room and talked to Dad on the phone for awhile, until I heard very heavy breathing coming from the dining room. It was Kate. She'd passed out at the table.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

School's IN For the...Well, Still The Summer, Really

Yesterday was Kate's first day of first grade and Sarah's first day of Pre-K. For Sarah, that meant it was also her very first day of real school at the Big Kids' School. Otherwise known in these parts as Drew Charter School, where they're serving up mad reading and math skillz but we bring the diversity.

Kate and Sarah were ready to get their learn on in their stunning khaki and hunter green. To bump the sass up a notch, the sisters Drueke added a touch of flare with their complementary Lands End, monogrammed backpacks and matching lunch boxes. Yes, these girls are as fashion forward as they can be while working within the confines of a school uniform. This look kills in Milan!

We arrived at school with the hordes of other camera-toting parents, and walked from the satellite parking lot to the girls' new classrooms. Sarah was so excited she nearly ran, but remembered to be cool, and sort of galloped when she thought we weren't looking. When we reached her new classroom, she was not at all nervous. Kate provided her with hugs and assurance that all would be well, but she wasn't listening because she'd discovered the sweet sofa in the book nook.

Standing in her new classroom, Kate went all quiet-like. She did shake her teacher's hand and introduce herself. She quickly found her seat, with her name on a brand new composition book (OH how I love a new notebook filled with blanks pages for writing! So much potential! That wonderful smell!), and set to work writing about her summer. I peered over her shoulder and discovered she'd scribed the lyrics to the Motels "Suddenly Last Summer". Not really. I'm sure she went the Bananarama route instead.

When the day was over both girls were full of chatter and giggles and pronounced school "awesome". That held for a few hours and then Kate developed a mystery earache and I had to go pick her up from school today, not long after I'd completed the Back To School Commute From Hell but before I'd finished my coffee.

While she is a bit congested and puffy-eyed, and she did take a nap at school and again at home, she spent the majority of the afternoon zoning out, watching Robots (twice, because 'it's hilarious') with Monkey, while I attempted to get some work done. "This is so nice," she said to me while taking a break from her movie to sip the lasse I'd made her, "I love it here."

She's totally going back there tomorrow.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Eczema Turned Me Into a Crazy Hippie

Kate has had to deal with eczema since infancy. I noticed it early on and when they're tiny like that you spend a lot of time at regular check-ups with the pediatrician. I mentioned it. The doctor gave me a steroid cream. "I don't know how I feel about putting steroid creams on my infant's skin. What if she gets Roid Rage?" I was kidding about the Rage but not about my discomfort. My doctor assured me that the percentage of steroid was very low, it was mostly boring cream and so I shouldn't worry. So I used the cream. No change. The doctor upped the percentage in the cream. Same conversation. I caved, used the cream, no change. Higher percentage again and again, until I finally pointed out that this same "cure" wasn't working at all. "Well, don't worry" my doctor assured me, "most kids grow out of this by the time they're seven." SEVEN? At this point, she was about 2.

No longer an infant, Kate now scratched at her eczema, often until it bled. When the weather got hot and humid, her skin got considerably worse, and she started to look really rough. It was so bad, sometimes she would scream and scream just being rinsed off in the bath. As I would later learn, sometimes even water burns those spots.

I'd become convinced that her pediatrician didn't care about her eczema, so I began reading. What could be causing it? Answer: anything at all. Eczema is a symptom, not a disease. Unfortunately, it's a symptom of damn near everything. Stress. Allergies. Fungus. Mold. The preservatives in vaccines. Every single lotion I've ever seen in the store contains alcohol as a stabilizer. Alcohol burns. I started making my own concoctions. I read more. I finally took her to a homeopath. I thought nearly every single thing Kate's homeopath said to me was completely insane. I was paying her, though, so I gave her advice a sincere try. So far, she's been right every time. That's when I started thinking all crazy-like. Jeremiah, too. We've had some progress with Kate's skin, but we haven't gotten down to the root cause and she's now six.

So Kate's still got The Eczema, but our lives have changed considerably. No more toxic cleaners anywhere to be found; I make most of the stuff we use to clean around here. That's really the tip of the iceberg, but I don't have that much time today. Along the way, I've learned so much and my mind has been so changed that it's more open than it ever was before I had Kate and I've started to wonder if there wasn't some very different reason for my kid's eczema than what I initially assumed.

During this healing journey we've all been on, I developed eczema on my hands so horrific that I couldn't bend my fingers. It was extremely informative, though, because I literally knew how Kate was feeling. I went to Sonja, who is now not just Kate's homeopath, but mine too. She said "you gotta take out the wheat and the dairy just to see. Most allergies are caused by an intolerance to one or both of those things". I argued with her about that for a solid week. Remembering her batting average, though, I finally gave it a whirl. Two weeks, no wheat, no dairy. It was like life was suddenly in black and white. OK, not that bad, but still. After the trial period I put dairy back in because I was desperate. I noticed nothing. Then I slipped in some wheat and my hands, not quite healed but not as bad as they had been, flared up so horribly I looked like a burn victim. That was a crushing blow. Perhaps I'll do a post that's just a list of the things I miss since I quit the wheat. Even after I stopped eating wheat entirely, my hands didn't get completely better, they just weren't as bad.

Then Ellen took up Reiki. By that time I'd tried everything to heal up the skin on my hands. I let her have a go at them; I had no expectations at all. I had no idea what Reiki even was, but whatever. She took that first pass and they got way, way worse, but I knew from the homeopathy that a flare-up right after a treatment was very likely what's known in those circles as a healing event (initally I thought that was just ironic, but no, it tends to proceed a bit of the better). So I asked her to do it again. She did. And my hands got better. Completely healed. It took about a week, but the open cuts on my knuckles quickly receded until there was no sign of them ever having existed. Wow.

Still, Kate itched. Months later, to my surprise, I ended up going through my own Reiki I and II attunements. I use that stuff daily now. I see it work a lot. Healing, though, doesn't happen all at once and often not where you were aiming, so we've got our work cut out for us. I look back on all we've done just to try to make Kate stop itching, and I see healing all around us, to ills we had no idea even existed in our lives. I know we'll get there with her, but oddly enough, I find myself grateful for a struggle we appear to be losing.