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Showing posts from April, 2008

Day 118. in which we consider error 404.

Less than a week ago, April 19, was my little sister's birthday. If she were still alive, she would have turned 25 this year. This is hard for me to wrap my head around because in my head, she's still this silly teenager. I can still see her sitting with her back to me, facing my computer, with her head phones blasting. She didn't know I had entered the room and was loudly singing in this god-awful voice that horrible "Genie in a Bottle" song. I couldn't stop laughing.

Sometimes I 'google' her name to see if I can find someone who may have known her, someone who might be able to put some puzzle pieces together for me. I know that must sound ridiculous but there seems to be answer for everything else on the internet.

What surprised me is that instead of finding someone who knew her, I found her directly - something silly and light-hearted she had written in a guest book as a teenager. The Geocities site didn't look active. I wondered how long I would…

Day 117. in which Alex puts Liam down.

Seth passed me in the upstairs hall as I carried Liam to our bedroom with Grandpa Bob in tow a few feet behind me.

"Are you putting the kids down?" he asked, trying to suppress a giggle. Even though his voice has matured, he still giggles. He thinks this a very clever thing to say because of the connotation of putting someone 'down'; it's become part of our evening ritual. A darker version of the The Walton's...

It's true; I'll admit it - we are a weird family with an odd sense of humor.

Liam had been getting punchy downstairs, beating up on things randomly and generally tackling anything in his path. Most often, his focus was sister, Lily. I recognized these as symptoms of being overtired because I often experience them myself - the exception here being that my target is usually their father, Dana, and not my daughter, Lily...

'Putting the children down' is not a simple task. It seems like it should be. Tired children should quietly drift off to …

Day 116. in which the mailman comes again.

The mailman delivered the prints from the 35 mm black and white film we sent in the mail last week. It was worth the wait. It took me 72 shots but I got a few good ones. My digital camera just isn't of the same ilk as my old 35 mm.

Day 115. in which they made him a bacon cheeseburger.

One of the many unfortunate occurrences of growing older is that you lose the enthusiasm for the simple things.

Riding the subway is still an exciting adventure but not for the same reasons you believed as a kid.

You wait for the time of your life in which there is no one to make you go to bed at a certain hour. You're going to stay up all night! You realize as you're working the graveyard shift that staying up all night isn't all it was cracked up to be in your head.

I remember when I was 8, I thought there was nothing better to eat than frozen concentrated orange juice. One of my first chores was to mix the juice and I couldn't help but steal a few bites of the frozen bits. When I grew up, I intended to stockpile my freezer with it and eat nothing else! No one would ever make me eat canned asparagus again. It was going to be all about the concentrate.

Today was a day both Seth and I have been looking forward to for a long time. Years, in fact. Seth had been asking to att…

Day 114. in which new techniques in hair design are suggested.

Poor Liam can't say too much yet. Mostly, he just parrots random words that we have taught him.

Basketball. Monkey Boy. Quack Quack. Sky.

His vocabulary isn't developed enough to respond one way or the other to the queries Lily poses to him. I suspect she views his silence as acquiescence.

We were out in the back yard grilling when Liam climbed up into his parked stroller. Like the son of a roof monkey that he is, he climbs everything. At 1 and a half, he has even mastered scaling the baby gate, which I think is quite impressive.

Tonight it wasn't the climbing that most concerned me. It was what I overheard Lil say to her little brother as she was trying to strap him into his stroller.

"Baby, would you like to go get a hair cut?" she asked of him as she struggled with the belt on the stroller.

Liam just smiled his dopey smile and watched his sister curiously. I was glad they were entertaining each other as I watched them from my camp chair. I like when they are playin…

Day 113. in which a suspicious noise is investigated.

When my son, Seth, calls me on the phone, I'm always surprised, particularly by two things:
That a 13-year-old boy would call his Mum just for the heck of it.
That his voice is disconcertingly deep.
This last point unsettles me. When did my little boy get this voice? There's something about the phone, this disembodied voice, claiming to be my Seth, that really gets me.

Growing up happens too quickly but in that same creeping way in which you don't realize it's happening until it's too late and it has already happened by. It doesn't matter if you are the kid who this is happening to or if you are the adult watching this happen to your children. It's strange no matter what your vantage point is.

When did my son's voice get so deep? When did he stop referring to his underwear as "butt covers"? When did he stop really hugging me? Now he tends to give me these begrudging, noncommittal hugs in which I suspect he rather avoid the entire situation altoget…

Day 112. in where there is panic at the Red Apple Rest!

I have never developed a love for driving. In fact, over the years I have become absolutely terrified of driving to the point of staying awake thinking about the drive I'd have to make in the morning. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when my job was relocated from Kingston, New York in which I lived in walking distance from my office to Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

Until I hit 30, I had happily survived without a car of my own. I'm not saying that this was not an inconvenience at many times.

10 years ago now but as still clear in my reflection is a memory of dragging a reluctant Seth across downtown Albany from the Price Chopper on Madison Avenue to our 7th floor State Street apartment, lugging large canvas bags of groceries over each shoulder, occasionally switching the hand that was holding Seth's with the hand that was holding plastic bags of groceries that didn't fit in the canvas and was cutting off circulation to my fingers.

And it seems like yesterday, thou…

Day 111. in which Seth is dragged down the staircase.

Lilith always manages to find a reason to get out of bed. Sometimes she simply wants Dana or me to pick her up like a baby and carry her back over to bed. She smiles blissfully as we tuck her in "nice and cozy"...again...

Other nights, it's not so easy. Occasionally, she demands a snack - a bad habit she has picked up from her bad parents. Night time kitchen snacking has really become a nightly social event in our house. Dana, Seth, Lily and I often gather after retiring to bed about a half hour later to get a drink or a snack. Although the gathering part is always fun, it's just not a good idea to snack and then sleep.

Sometimes, Lily feels compelled to get out of bed to brush her teeth again. It's hard to argue with that. I mean, what parent forbids a child from tooth brushing?

Another excuse that a parent shouldn't ignore, even if there is suspicion that the excuse is bogus, is when your child expresses a need to go 'pee-pee'. This was Lily's cry …

Day 110. in which the grill is mis-screwed but the kids are still alive.

Success means having a strategy in play at all times.

If I were really good, I would have a better system in play. I actually do have a lot of ideas for systems but I haven't had enough time to put them into play.

Obviously, it's not that I'm totally without personal time. But this very blog itself is a representation of wasted time. I guess that depends on the vantage point which is always changing, anyway.

It's tricky to stay on top.

And I'm not trying to stay on top so much as I am trying to survive. Children can be vicious creatures. Don't let their charming smiles delude you.

I haven't found a good way to make others adhere to my strategy. In fact, there are interlopers living amongst us. Surely, this would explain what Dad did with his flashlight. Trolls that work against us by moving things out of its 'home' place. I believe in a place for everything. Every thing has a place. It removes the thinking out of the action so that the thinking can be a…

Day 109. in which Lilith chokes Liam with compassion.

"Here baby! Let me help you!" Lil said to Liam. I picture her still calling him this when he's 30...

It only appears here that Lil is strangling her little brother. But she was earnestly trying to assist him here.

With a smile on her face, she appears to be choking him with compassion.

She was trying to assist him out of his little red wagon to save him from toppling over for when he would stand up on his own. Because it is on wheels, it often starts to wiggle back and forth, easily causing the little person attempting to stand from falling over the side of it.

Lily didn't realize it'd be easier - and safer - to simply hold the wagon.

Day 108. in which Bob turns 69!

He might not be climbing trees in Rossman anymore...

but he can still climb over a baby gate and sit cross-legged on the floor for yoga! Not too bad for 69, if you ask me!

Happy Birthday Dear Old Dad!

Day 107. in which we put film in a mailbox.

My youngest children will never know what it was like to have to wait for film to be developed before you can actually 'see' the picture you took. Subtlety, technology has creeped up on us; digital photography has nearly replaced film altogether - at least, for a non-professional like me.

I haven't quite given up on my 35 mm completely. Before my trip to Frost Valley, I bought 3 rolls of B/W Kodak film. I only used 1 of them at Frost Valley because I needed the instant gratification of digital. I mean, what if all of my photographs turned out horribly? So, I stupidly ending up taking duplicate shots of nearly everything.Last week, I was taking some shots of the kids in the yard with actual 35 mm film! and after I took Lily's picture, her first statement was, "Let me see it!" It must seem completely bizarre to her that you can't actually see the photograph for a few weeks let alone while you're taking it...

One of my favorite things as a child was to lo…

Day 105. in which there are missing body parts.

MISSING!

Mr. Potato Head was discovered this afternoon in the Brown-Soechting living room. Visibly frenetic from the recent attack, the victim was found smiling deliriously despite missing several key body parts - most noticeably, his arms, ears and nose. Since his ears are missing, interviewing the subject was impossible. The attack occurred during the light of day in a residential neighborhood and does not appear to be an isolated incident as other victims were discovered near the scene of attack.

There are two primary suspects in the case. Lilith Soechting, age 2, Liam Soechting, age 1, both were found at the scene of the crime.

Lilith said Liam did it.

Liam refused to comment.

Day 104. in which there are weapons discovered in the living room.

While Dana and I were wrangling kids into the shower, Dad was sitting downstairs in the living room watching the news. I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I only recently learned of the BBC America news channel. I've been subjecting dear old Dad to CNN for such a miserably long time. It may have irreparably harmed all of us in a subtle, unnoticeable yet mind-confusing, brain-washing way.

I think there may be some immediate proof of this after an episode we had tonight.

Dad often stands at the bottom of the staircase, waiting for someone to come out and see him. Most of the time he'll yell up, "Hello! I am here!"

"And I am here!" I'll reply. This seems to make him feel better to run through this routine every so often throughout the day. It grounds us some place in reality; we grab it for just a moment.

I have to beg Lily to please get out of the shower. She's very stubborn and so nonchalant about her belligerence that I sometimes find her frustra…

Day 103. in which fresh flowers are delivered to Mum.

From Left to Right: Lilith's, Dana's, Liam's, Seth's.

There's nothing better than hand-picked flowers for mum! I remember stealing into my neighbor's flower garden when I was about 5 to pick my own mom some of the her magnificent magnolias! On a separate occasion, I picked her goldenrod and made her quite ill with a hay fever...

These flowers are perfect and far better than anything from a flower shop.

Seth says his are the best because, being sticks, they will never whither nor die.

Day 102. in which we long to jump the iron fence.

Vacation is almost over and I'm already beginning to anticipate next week with a certain amount of dread...

But - it's still vacation. So enough about that.

I have developed a love for photographs of urban decay. I haven't fully evaluated why this is but it's a fascination I've been fostering. Last night, while poking around Flickr, I found this photo which gave me the geebies. It's this photo of an old, dilapidated brickyard in Kingston. (Since it's not a photo I actually *took*, I don't want to post it on my blog so just follow that link...)

Just looking at that picture made me tremble. I like trembling. It reminds me that I am living.

I got the shivers. It made your imagination run.

Dana and I - all alone - for Dad was with Andrea, the babies with Evelyn and Seth at school - drove down to the Strand along the Rondout. I wanted to poke about and take some of my own photographs.

Yup. Dana and I have a moment alone and we go to snap photos of decaying buildi…

Day 101. in which a good car is hard to find.

Lo and behold! My ex best friend came out of the woodwork for the first time in a half a year and brought me some coffee. We drove around town in his car and had lunch together down on the Strand at Cafe Dolce. I had curry tuna. It was yummy.

It's not that Brian and I had a fight. But I don't know if you can call someone your best friend, anymore, if you don't ever see him. Or talk to him.

And I can't downgrade him to an acquaintance. That's rather impersonal.

Brian used to have this crappy car. I think he bought it off our friend, Julia, for $150. Yeah. One hundred and fifty dollars. So, that's about how good it was. But you know, it lasted a long time - through all of our time at SUNY New Paltz. When it rained, the windshield wipers wouldn't run on their own. Brian attached a long piece of thick twine from one end of the windshield wipers. When it rained, he used to roll down the driver's side window and pull the twine to make the wipers work.

This car to…

Day 100. in which a soggy Dorito is left behind.

Dana and Lily were watching Shrek for the umpteenth time tonight and munching on some Doritos. I heard them talking on the way up the stairs awhile ago. Lily was trying to convince Dana and Seth that she needed the entire bag of Doritos but Dana managed to placate her by putting a handfull on a paper plate.

The movie ended, teeth were brushed, and Lil was tucked into bed.

But on my bed remained a paper plate with a few Doritos on it.

What the heck. Why not eat one?

In the dark, I put one in my mouth. It was much soggier than I expected it to be...

Lily had apparently licked all of the dorito-cheese off and left the chip behind. It was a bit late by the time I noticed this - it was in my mouth already. So I swallowed it.

Is that disgusting or what?

I wasn't actually that offended until I told Dana what had happened! He said, "What?! You ate it?!"

My advice to you: don't eat food in the dark that your toddler left on the bed.

Day 99. in which we Freecycle.

Day 5 of my vacation. I'm cleaning closets and the attic and sorting through boxes of toddler clothes. I have an addiction to containerizing and organizing things. I often reorganize things repeatedly. It's truly an illness.

Today I freecycled. I tried to be creative about my posts:

I have a box of books I would enjoy watching leave my front porch in one swoop!

Nothing too exciting in here but I bought them all at one time or another in the past decade, so they can't be all that bad...

Here's a sampling:

The Consolations of Philosophy: another gift. someone gave this to me because they knew I studied philosophy, so they thought any book on philosophy would do apparently. (does that sound mean?)

Anne Tyler: The Accidental Tourist (pretty sappy, bad movie made out of it, had to read it for a class)

Civilization in the West: textbook about 10 years old now for Western Civ.

Lips Together, Teeth Apart: just about the worst play ever written.

The Nectar of Instruction: some book I p…

Day 98. in which there is only one bathroom.

Sometimes in our house you have an opportunity of using the bathroom alone. Unfortunately, we only have one bathroom so it's often interrupted. When my father moved in with us, he used to make remarks when he couldn't get into the bathroom like, "What do you mean there is only one bathroom?" as if this was completely absurd.

In my childhood, I don't recall many times that we had more than one bathroom in our house. There were two in our raised ranch in Bells Acres, Valatie, but Dad wouldn't let us use the bathroom downstairs. Ever. Apparently, there was something 'wrong' with it. But since Dad never got around to fixing it, I suspect he just didn't want to clean it. I honestly don't know, though.

Dad seemed to implement lots of random rules when I was a kid - but now that I'm an adult, I can appreciate that they weren't as random as they seemed. I wasn't privy to Dad's internal thoughts. We weren't allowed to go on the balcon…

Day 97. in which Alex returns home.

Aiming for 6:45 yoga, Kyrce and I woke up this morning at 7:20.

I was originally planning on an entire day of nothing but yoga but Kyrce was going to Tai Chi at Geyer Hall. Since I've never done Tai Chi before and it seems like a sedate activity like yoga, I thought I would give it a try.

Geyer Hall was the one I had been looking for the day before when I was lost. Kyrce took me out the back door of the dining lodge. I didn't even know there was a back door to the dining lodge. This is unfortunate because had I known the day before, I could have spared myself a long journey around the dining lodge only to get lost near the back of the dining hall and not realize I was at the back of the dining hall. Remember the big building I got lost behind that wasn't labeled? Well. That was the dining hall.

I actually had been going in the right direction when I started questioning myself because it had seemed to be such a long walk - only it really hadn't been - it just seemed that w…

Day 96. in which no one wears a wrist-watch anymore.

If you can believe it, I'm so white noise dependent that I actually brought a portable fan with me to turn on at night so I could get to sleep. Unfortunately, it isn't the fan I ordinarily use at home so I didn't know until bed time last night that it rattles when it's running. Also, it only had two speeds and even the low seemed high to me. Between the rattling and the high fan speed, it was immediately apparent it wasn't going to help anyone sleep and likely might keep our neighbors awake.

Surprisingly, I fell asleep and slept relatively well. I awoke during the night to the sound of the rain tapping down against the metal pans on the roof. I found it comforting. I am probably much more aware of the metal roofs here than anyone else. I cannot look at them without thinking of Dana. For years, Frost Valley has only meant one thing to me - a faraway place in which Dana works on roofs. In fact, I promised to take lots of photographs of his roofs if he would be so kin…

Day 95. in which we try to break white noise dependency.

FrostValley. I have been here about 20 minutes. I love it.
Kyrce’s mum had described it as “magical” and after being here only a few minutes, I know she is right. Some places speak.
I had forgotten what it is to be quiet. I know that sounds silly but I don't often get quiet. Even in the quiet of night, there is a low buzz of white noise filtered in by a fan I run all year long. If it's cold, I deflect it towards the wall. The intent of this fan does not match its purpose. I run the fan to cover the noise of quiet. I awaken at any minute noise or even a change in the room. If the electricity goes out in the middle of the night, I wake from the sudden quiet. I don't like being dependent on white noise for sleep but I confess - I am white noise dependent.
There's a persistent ringing in my ears. I haven't heard it in a long time, but I'm familiar with it. It's horribly irritating. It must always irritate me, only typically, my surroundings are so loud that my bra…

Day 94. in which Alex gets released.

I have stopped counting the days and have begun to the count the hours to the Frost Valley retreat. I couldn't stop smiling at work all day today...truly, an unprecedented phenomena! I have been unshackled from my desk for the next 10 days...now all I have to do is mentally unshackle myself...

Day 93. in which Seth is registered.

Tonight we registered Seth for the Fall semester at Coleman Catholic. They gave us a ballpoint pen that said "Coleman" on it. I gave them a check for the deposit.

Seth, Lily and I likely looked a bit lost upon entering and a student a couple of years older than Seth approached us. Looking lost, he correctly assumed we were there for registration and pointed us - unsolicited - in the right direction.

Lily was very excited to be going to school. She pretends to go to school a lot at home, in which she straps on a back pack and runs circles around the house, trying to catch the bus. She doesn't really know much about what it is, only that Seth goes there everyday at the same time she goes to Evie's.

Coleman looks like you've stepped inside a time machine and traveled back about 60 years. It's clean and well-maintained but its lecture hall where we met for registration was furnished with rows of uncomfortable wooden seats that looked like they had been bolted in the…

Day 92. in which we prognosticate.

Lilith often struts around our bedroom donning my bra which looks totally ridiculous since the bra itself, laid end to end, is nearly longer than she is...This morning as Dana and I were dressing for work, she was seated on the floor next to our bed with a circular from the Sunday paper. Lil pointed at a woman modeling cotton brassieres in a Target ad.

"Look, Mommy!" she said. "She has a bra!"

Liam ambled over to his sister to check out what she was so excited about. She shared the picture with Liam, too.

"Look, buddy! Bra!" Lily said as she pointed to the woman in her bra.

Liam looked excited, too. He reached for the paper saying, "Bra! Bra! Bra!"

Great.

Liam has added a new word to his vocabulary this morning: bra.

Now he can say grandpa, daddy, ma, sock, basketball and bra.

Lily's first compound word was flashlight. She's naturally attracted to shiny objects.

Seth's was democracy. Yes, democracy. Around the time he was one and a half, eve…