To be fair, this was my most logical child. My dear 2010 said, "I wish tomorrow were my birthday."
First off, kudos to my four-year-old for using the conditional sense. Second, I tried to logic her out of it. It did not go well.
"It wouldn't really be fair if you had two birthdays, would it?" See what I did? I appealed to her sense of fairness and love for her sisters.
Irritated, she explained that didn't want two, she just wanted hers to be tomorrow.
I tried more logic.
"But if tomorrow were your birthday, my Love, you would be devastated when your actual birthday rolled around and it wasn't your birthday anymore."
My angry girl explained that she wanted to skip right to her birthday.
"You know, Love, if we skipped right to your birthday, we would SKIP your grandmother's birthday, and Genevieve's and Felix's, and Suzy Lou's, too."
She knew, but she wanted cake and presents.
I sensed whining on the horizon, but I had her!
"Love, we're not ready for your party. I haven't baked a cake or bought any presents. There are no decorations or anything."
Tears. I had made her cry. She knew, but it would be cool if her birthday were tomorrow.
I finally got it.
"You're right, 2010! That would be cool!"
And off she went to play, blissed out with her cool idea.
Huh. This is a screen shot of a photograph. Weird.
Five seconds before we put our Chicagoland house on the market, we had a plumbing issue so dreadful that a crew of five had to dig a 7-foot pit in our front yard. After they filled in the pit, we were left with a huge mound of dirt and instructions to water it and stomp on it every day until it was level with the grass. The girls loved it, but what a nightmare.
I had completely forgotten about that until today. Also the tree that fell on the garage the very next week.
Screen Shot Sunday: I take lots of screen shots. Too many, really. Every few weeks, when my desktop is cluttered, I throw all my screen shots into a screen shot folder. On Screen Shot Sundays, I choose one at random and explain it.
In our family, we talk a lot about fairness. We talk about luck. We talk about putting kindness out into the world. We talk about social justice.
But we're not talking about the Supreme Court decision.
Both of my school-aged daughters had gay teachers this year: one in a longtime partnership, and one who leveled up from "girlfriend" to "fiancee" just this spring. My girls have friends with gay parents. We have gay friends and gay family.
I don't want to plant a seed in my girls' brains that ANY of their relationships are lesser than mine. I want them to continue to believe in fairness. Telling them that the Supreme Court had to mandate recognition of gay marriage will make the little wheels of their brains spin wildly. They already know that their is hatred and meanness in the world, but I don't want them to know that some of that hatred and meanness is showered on people they love.
In my girls' world, every couple can get married, because that is fair. Anything less is simply ridiculous.
So yes, we talk about homelessness. We talk about school funding. We talk about famine and disease and death and sex.
But for now, in my house, there will be no discussion about prejudice against same-sex marriages.
It is so ordered.
Whistler Blackcomb is our closest big ski resort, but I had no idea which areas were nearest to the slopes.
Cue infinitely-organized trip planner. I love figuring out where to stay, how near the mountains are to each other, and where our girls will take lessons. (Already, 2008 has had two sets of lessons. Little 2010 had lessons in New Zealand! Of course, 2013 is still waiting her turn. She has no idea what's coming.)
Needless to say, now I know. And the trip is planned. (And Whistler Village is the answer.)
So, we’re back in the States. Before our sabbatical ended (indeed, before we reached the one-year point,) Google nudged 1977: “want to work for us?”
So now he does. And now we live in Seattle*, which somehow feels further from our families than New Zealand did.
New Zealand was awesome. It was ten Christmases (Although Christmas in New Zealand was a low point. More on that later.) Had things been different for 1977 at work, we may have stayed forever. . .but they weren't, and now he's at Google, which would be a dream come true if he were the kind of person who dwelled on dreams.
You know how Google wins all the "Employer of the year/decade/century" awards? It's totally true.
We're settling into our new house. In a major coup, we got 2008 into an amazing school. Five months ago, sitting on my sofa in NZ, I was salivating over this school, but it's an option school, and we missed the window and I wrote it off because our timing just meant we couldn't get her in.
BUT, we got lucky. There was one spot. In May. We took it, and I could not be happier.
Seattle is pretty great. It rivals Christchurch for scenery, and my politics and lifestyle fit right in with our neighborhood. I miss my kiwi friends every day, but it's nice to be back in the States. Why hello, Trader Joe's! What's that you say, QFC? You have berries? Year round? For less than $20 a punnet?
I missed you, American economy. I'm not ashamed to say it. (I am ashamed of some other stuff, but we'll get to that.)
So, hi! What did I miss?
*I feel like Google Maps outed me! Cupcake Royale is on that map up there. Why? Why, Google, do you need to highlight that I may have gone there once or more than once since we moved here in April? Gregg's Cycles? Fine. Everyone in Seattle has a bike. But cupcakes? No one needs to know about that, GOOGLE! I am a loyal Google spouse. Be a loyal mapmaker.
I’m talking to you, New Zealand.
That’s me holding 2013* at a picnic table in a park adjacent to a beach on a harbor nestled between mountains.
There is no New Zealand without zeal! (and prepositions!)
Six months in, I finally feel settled, and I love it. LOVE IT, as in I would not be returning to the States if staying in NZ were an option. We found an amazing school for 2008. I spent the dwindling days of summer with 2008, 2010, and 2013 at the beach, and spring is beckoning us back to the beach already.
I have a lot to say about New Zealand (and it features prominently in my newest manuscript!**)
For now: hello!
*Oh yeah, 2013 is cute. She keeps me up nights, but she’s sweet, so we’re keeping her.
**Yup, finished the first YA manuscript, too. Well, the first public draft. It’s in the hands of my early readers, and the next YA manuscript is underway.
This morning, the whole family enjoyed our town’s Fourth of July parade, and oh how I wish I could share photos.
Shortly before the (actual) fourth of July, massive storms downed trees and closed streets all over our city. Also, July temperatures were in the 100s, so city government cancelled the festivities.
Last night there were fireworks, and today was my first Independence Day parade here. My mother-in-law, who has lived here more then 35 years, warned that the parade would be at least 90 minutes, and it did not disappoint.
I’m no stranger to big Fourth of July shindigs. For years, I lived in Upper Arlington, Ohio, where citizens on bullhorns sped down streets at the crack of dawn: “It’s the fourth of July! Wake up and celebrate! The parade is in X hours.” They drove in loops until the parade began.
And the parade was every citizen’s opportunity to show off their new stuff. New puppy? Bring him. New bike? Ride it in the parade. New baby? Sit with her in the shade (but for god’s sake, don’t nurse her!) UA hosts their high school reunions over the fourth of July, so class after class sits drunkenly on their floats, every five years.
We don’t embrace drunkenness here, but we do embrace community. Many many Republican candidates marched, as did a few democrats. Dozens of odd vehicles’s strange noises made 2010 cover her ears close to tears. Lots of people marched for Jesus or God or Falun Gong (though almost no one clapped for the lovely lotus ladies on that float.)
My girls received enough candy to replenish the treat bowl until Halloween (at least.) ACE hardware gave 1977 a yardstick, which was one of the highlights of my morning.
We hosted more than our fair share of veterans, roller derby enthusiasts, a shopping cart drill team, fat deputies, tiny cheerleaders with itty-bitty football players, and plenty of politicians eager to press the flesh. It was a strange day in Baconville.
And now I’m hiding in my house.
Our county fair begins today, and the kinder are beside themselves with anticipation. Unfortunately for them, it’s supposed to be 100 degrees most of this week, so a visit with livestock and carneys seems unlikely.
Unfortunately for me, the fair will be a colossal disappointment, as it is nearly every year.
I grew up in Ohio, a massive agricultural state (also: football breeding ground and butt of American jokes, but those are topics for other days.) County and state fairs figured prominently in my life until I left the state ten years ago.
Embarrassing moment with the governor? State fair. Story of my (second) broken arm? County fair. Relatives’ crafts and hobbies showcased for all the world to see? County fair. Rabbits that were mine-but-not-mine? County fair.
I dragged 1977 to Alaska’s state fair on our honeymoon. No lie.
The absolute best treat of any fair, EVER, is cheese on a stick. Despite having been to many fairs outside Ohio, I have never found it anywhere else.
There are mozzarella sticks, yes. And very occasionally, “cheese on a stick” made from cheddar, which is just wrong. Genuine cheese on a stick is a chunk of mozzarella dipped in cornmeal and deep-fried like all good fair food. It tastes best when dipped in yellow mustard.
And it is nowhere to be found outside of Ohio.
**Image courtesy of dupagecountyfair.org
Not only did our family’s relaxing summer begin this week, but other awesome stuff is happening--and it’s only Wednesday!
A friend offered me her copy of Jessica Khoury’s debut novel, Origin, which isn’t due out until early September. Yes, please! I’ll report back.
McSweeney’s ran a funny article, Jamie and Jeff’s Birth Plan, which will sing to anyone who’s ever expected a natural birth (or who knows anyone who’s ever expected a natural birth):http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/jamie-and-jeffs-birth-plan
Folks at Harvard identified an anti-aging protein in mice that might have similar effects on humans:http://www.livescience.com/18593-anti-aging-protein-extends-life-span.html
I missed that the first time around, and with good reason. I’m not sure anti-aging appeals. I wear my grey hair proudly and yes, those were my knees popping.
The gymnastics Olympic trials begin tomorrow, which excites our house to (almost) no end. This week, 2008 has declared that she will be a gymnasticker [sic] when she grows up.
We’re finally easing back into our normal family routines, and everyone is sleeping. (This is rare in my house. Cross your fingers that the trend continues.)
Inspiration struck again, and I am off and writing. I couldn’t be happier.
I spend hours--days, even--explaining to 2008 what is real and what is pretend.
I thought she might blow a gasket when National Geographic confirmed that lava is real. Photosynthesis really blew her mind. Dialysis seemed cool.
Today, though, for the first time, she thought I was lying. Her grandfather received a liver transplant in the 90s, and again within the last six years. I explained how it worked, and she thought I had made up the whole thing.
Now, I’ll admit that it seems a little sci-fi, in the way that growing a fetus in your body is a little sci-fi. Short of taking her to surgery, I couldn’t prove to her that it was real. Many other things from youtube were just pretend, so that was hardly an option. She cannot yet read. None of our doctor friends were available, so what was I to do?
This is why I think it’s important to never lie to my children. In the end, I looked her in the eyes and promised this was the truth. Someone else’s organs now live inside her Grampa. I promised I wasn’t pretending.
Her answer: that’s ridiculous.
I blog rarely, because I'm busy writing books. When I do blog, I focus on writing, friendship, family, and books. Because my family's best nicknames are private, I use their birth years for shorthand: