Friday, September 27, 2013

Feature Art Friday: Hydrant

 No... I have no idea what possessed me to paint a fire hydrant. Or to paint it pink, for that matter. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I have a plan.

For real, I have a plan. This is a phrase that tends to strike fear in anyone directly in my path, other than my best friend who (obviously) immediately gets on board with any scheme I come up with. The only thing worse than me saying "I have a plan" is the two of us together saying, "We got this." This happens less often now that she unfortunately lives several states away... but the world is probably a safer place, depending on who you ask. (Anyone but the two of us.) The last time we were together when that line was uttered we found ourselves driving approximately 10 miles in 45 degree weather with the windows of her car rolled down so that we could hold a 4' x 4' sheet of plywood to the roof of her car. Her geriatric dog had arthritis & was having trouble with the back steps, so this is the project we focused on during my 24 hour stay. What can I say? I love dogs. And my best friend. 

I know what you are thinking...why didn't we just tie it down to the roof of her car? Duh. (eyeroll.) We did. And we were so focused on tying it down really well that we accidentally did so after the doors of the car were closed. I'll let that sink in for a second.

So there we were, two middle-aged women climbing in the windows of her car Dukes of Hazard style, at 10:00 a.m. one morning, laughing hysterically while reminding each other that we really should both make more time for yoga. For the person who watches the security camera footage of the parking lot at Lowe's Home Center in Richmond, Virginia, you are welcome. I sincerely hope you laughed so hard you peed your pants.

It's funny how everything really is relative. You know how a quarter doesn't seem like much money, until you just need one more nickel to have enough to get a soda from the machine, and you find a WHOLE QUARTER? Sweet! Jackpot! We were discussing this as we sat at stop lights & pleaded with them to stay red so we could keep our now blue hands inside the car in front of the heat vents. Normally, two super cold people would be pretty disappointed in finding one set of gloves, but we immediately started high-fiving each other with our one free hand after scoring this awesome find. She immediately put one on her left hand & I took the glove for my right hand.

As we crawled out of the car windows in the front yard of her new house, we congratulated each other on how much more graceful our exit from the car was than the much more public entrance, discussed what quick learners we were & wondered how many YouTube videos were made of us so far that day. We discussed how disappointed her 20 year old daughter would be to have been absent for our latest adventure... although now that I think about it, she hasn't really been out in public with both of us much in the last couple of years. It almost seems intentional.

So anyway, I have a plan... one that will make every other member of my household play a one-sided game of hide-and-seek from me until it is finished & make my friend wish she was here for the trip to the store. I'm going to turn the garage into an art studio. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Confessions of a New Parent: the one about my purse

Are you familiar with the oversized posters located at security check points in U.S. airports? The posters include photos and text outlining what sort of items are prohibited on aircraft. Some are things that could be considered dangerous, but useful. Things you might forget to remove from your bag before going on a trip. In my mind, that is the purpose of the sign- to remind you to take these useful, yet dangerous items out of your purse.

For instance, I have an incredibly calm friend with no criminal history who also happens to have an affinity for Swiss army knives. You know, the little kits that look like a pocket knife, but in fact hold enough teeny tools to build a submarine? I could see how it might be useful to see a photo of your teeny submarine-building knife on a poster with a big circle around it & line through it in order to remember to take it out of your bag.

There are, however, many items on the poster that make no sense. I can’t tell you the number of times B.C. (before children) that I stood in the security line at an airport rolling my eyes & snorting at these posters as I asked myself, “who has to be reminded to take a BRICK out of their purse for heaven sakes?” More on that later.

Recently, after fishing in my purse for a pen at the post office while a line of customers waited behind me, I found myself standing at the counter holding a Holstein cow hand puppet.  The cow & an oversized yellow plastic whistle had been confiscated from my seven-year-old’s backpack while in the drop-off line at school earlier in the week. (You’re welcome, second grade teacher, you’re welcome.) Of course I didn’t have a child handy to blame for the puppet, which is especially frustrating since I usually can’t move six inches without stepping on at least one of them. Nope, I was standing in line at the post office by myself clutching a hand puppet.

The postal clerk looked me calmly in the eye, slowly lowered his gaze in what attempted to be an effort to make eye contact with the cow, then looked me pointedly in the eye again. It reminded me of that safety session in college where you are told to look strangers in the eye if you are walking on campus at night, as if eye contact will somehow cause them to reconsider their plan to murder you & chop you up into bits. I can only assume the post office has a similar presentation based on the assumption that this whole “eye contact” trick also applies to crazy people.

Nobody uttered a word. He sold me my stamps, took my money & made change without ever breaking eye contact, which I found admirable. As I walked out the door, I noticed a car barreling down on a woman crossing the street to the post office. I toyed with the idea of pulling out my handy oversized whistle to help her out until I saw the way she was looking at me. Only then did I realize that in my relief of being free from the staring contest with the postal clerk, I was still clutching the Holstein cow hand puppet- although at this point I had changed hands & I was now holding the helpless cow tightly by the throat. The only thing that might have made this worse would have been if I was actually wearing it on my hand & carrying on a conversation with it. Good thing I didn’t have any additional stops to make. No, I was headed straight home where I would likely spend the rest of the day stepping on children each time I moved.

So back to the security posters in airports & my ongoing judgment about the unnecessary inclusion of many household items that would never be carried in a purse by a sane person. On my first trip to the pediatric dentist with all three boys, after reaching in my purse for some paperwork, I found myself standing at the checkout counter holding a hammer. Not a little tack hammer (as if that would have been better), it was a big hammer. The kind you might use to build something, like a deck. Or maybe a submarine. I silently congratulated myself on inadvertently solving the mystery of why my purse had been so heavy lately while admiring the fact that motherhood had clearly turned my tiny purse into some sort of bottomless Mary Poppins bag. I rested my elbow on the counter (the hammer was getting heavy) as I peered into my bag. How did that giant hammer fit in there? Never mind why. I wasn’t even going to waste my energy wondering why. The “why” ship sailed about 6 weeks into parenthood & I haven’t seen it since.

Once I finished these vaguely connected thoughts, I looked up to find myself in a staring contest with a woman in scrubs. By now I knew how this game worked, having been to the post office a few short weeks ago. I waited patiently as she made eye contact with me, slowly lowered her gaze to the hammer & turned white as a sheet as she glanced at the giant glass window between us on her way back up to make eye contact with me. I calmly put the hammer back into my purse as the boys stood by patiently, not even bothering to ask & I signed our paperwork & left. Honestly I’m not sure what was more perplexing to her, the hammer-wielding stranger or the children who were clearly unfazed by the whole incident. This happens with kids who spent two years in foster care… they are unfazed by crazy things but freak out over completely normal occurrences, like being picked up 10 minutes early without days of advance warning.

As we walked into the parking lot, the airport security poster flashed in my head & I could clearly see the outline of a hammer, with a circle around it & a line drawn through it. I imagined my pre-child years of eye-rolling & snorting while I stood in the security line (likely well-rested & with eye make-up on both eyes). No wonder that sign had never made sense to me before. I had not been to the airport since becoming a mom. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Best of August 2013

The 'Best of August' could have included lots of other things. All of the trips to the pool. Almost every weekend really. Good weather- a little cooler a few days so everyone could spend some time in the yard. Buying school supplies. All of these things were fun. But the "Best of" list this month is being devoted to one big thing.

School started and for the very first time, the boys were able to go back to the same school after summer break. During the period of time they were in state care, in addition to never all being at the same school, the inconsistency of foster care and living situations had them changing schools frequently. Not having much opportunity to make friends and even less opportunity to tell them goodbye.

So on a Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, we took the boys to open house at school to see their new classrooms and meet their new teachers. They initially seemed shocked to see many of the same kids they knew from last year. The boys were visibly pleased with themselves when another kid or a teacher would speak to them in the hallway. They beamed, elbowing each other and smiling. I never want to forget these things.

Can you imagine this thing we all took for granted as children, that most of us felt from before we could remember? Feeling it for the first time when you are old enough to realize the difference?

The feeling of being recognized. 

Being cared for.

Being known. 

Being remembered.

My boys got to feel that at school this year. No moving. No newness, unless you count the backpacks and lunch boxes that they each picked out with painstaking care. Returning to the same school... one more little proof for them that they are finally home. That was the best of August.