Signs. Signs. Everywhere Signs.

We have come into some wood. Random pieces cut in random ways. Over the summer, Tornado A made a sign for the big family room. “Don’t come in” was written on one side. “Come in if you want” was written on the other side. He is meticulous in using it on the door.

Sunday he decided to make a sign for me. One side. “Saye out.” For when I need people to stay out of my room.

Thank you, baby.

Then he made one for his bedroom.

How cute.

Then one for the bathroom.

Thank you, sweetheart.

One for the office.

Papi will love that one.

One for my parents’ room.

Nana: Thank you.

One for the main hallway.

Um, ok. Awesome.

One for the dining room.

This one is great, but, baby….

One for the living room.

One small sign doesn’t really work for a room without a – no, it’s cute.

And then we had to stop him. Sweetly. Kindly. We asked him to hold off on signs for a little while. How many could he want to make? We love them, but we’re tripping over them.

Then he wailed and wailed and wailed.

I promised he can make more next weekend.

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Nightmares and Decisions

I’m rocking it at work. People are impressed. My students are doing awesome. I’m getting suspicious.

On the other hand, I am so worried and anxious about my boys that I’m having nightmare. Stupid, silly, anxiety-ridden nightmares.

Like the other night, I dreamt that Tornado E was failing math because he was too busy helping his girlfriend with her math that he wasn’t doing his. The worst part about the dream was I didn’t even know he had a girlfriend.

So at breakfast, I did what any normal, anxious parent would do.

Me: Boys, new rule. If you found a girl to be your girlfriend, you have to ask me about it first. This rule applies until you’re 18 or out of high school, which ever comes last.

The boys stare at me. Tornado S and Tornado A gave me a look of disgust. Tornado E considered it.

Tornado E: That seems fair.

They went back to eating. Ok. Great. I’m not sure if they were humoring me or I’m crazy. Or both.

 

I Miss This

The last few weeks I’ve been thinking about how I don’t have a place to write about my kid stories and my mom stories. I’ve been thinking about how much I missed my blog friends. Then the other day I mentioned I once ran a mommy blog for years, and the person asked me about it. After I explained, she said wow, what an amazing experience. And it was.

So I’m going to start blogging again. I can’t promise I can do it regularly. I’m hoping to do write Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays with a weekend post every now and then. You see, now I’m a full time teacher, and this is my first year teaching all Freshman under the new curriculum. Tuesday nights are karate nights… for the boys. Thursday is Cub Scout and Boy Scout nights …  for us all. But Monday is Nerd Night, and Friday is Art Night … both for me. Wednesday is Kung Fu night, but that’s only for Tornado A, and he’s done by 6:30.

This might not even work out, since I now call, email, and write my federal legislators every day. I’m looking forward to the day I can write to my state legislators. I’m working on my poetry, and I’m editing a manuscript. But who isn’t? I’m studying Spanish. Note to self, work on Spanish later. I’m also studying to take the history and government test in the summer because why wouldn’t I want to be qualified to teach more subjects? I don’t plan on giving up journaling again because that’s for me. Please, Lord, someone burn those when I die.

Beyond that, I’m raising three active, smart, funny boys, living with my parents, and fighting depression. Now you know why I keep a journal. Next stop, meditation. When I get the time.

Hopefully, I’ll see you soon.

Raising Feminist Nerds

I have a picture I printed off Pinterest taped near my computer.  (Since I have no idea what I’m doing, I can’t show you.)  Can you guess which part of the comic I have on my wall.  It’s Mulan and Eowyn high fiving.

Tornado E: MOMMY!  I know why you have that picture taped on your wall!

Me: What picture?

Tornado E: The Lord of the Rings one!

Me: Why’s that?

Tornado E: Because you like Mulan and Lord of the Rings.

Me: Yes.  Do you want to know what the picture is about?

Tornado E: Uh-huh.

Me: Well, you know what Mulan is about.  Eowyn did the same sort of thing.  She snuck into the army and saved the day.  Do you want to hear the story?

Tornado E: Yes!

Me: Well the forces of Sauron were attacking Gondor.  And Aragon convinced the men of Rohan to go to the defense of Gondor.  So off they went riding horses to battle.  For Glory!  (I raised my hand in salute.)  But Eowyn was to be left behind because they didn’t let girls fight battles.  And she was sad and scared.  She didn’t want the people she loved to be killed in battle.  She didn’t want to be left behind, locked in a cage, waiting for something to happen, instead of going out and having adventures.  So the horseriders of Rohan rode and joined battle with Gondor to defeat Sauron.

The boys stood there, staring at me, savoring every word.

Me: And things weren’t going well for Gondor.  Not only were there so many, many orcs.  But they had The Witch King who rode the horrible Nazgûl.  It was a fierce and ugly monster, looking like a black dragon with a long neck.  The Nazgûl’s screams sent fear into the soldiers.  No one could stand against the Witch King.  The fighting was fierce, and the king of Rohan found himself face to face with the Witch King.  And he fought bravely, but the Witch King defeated him.  But before the Witch King could kill the king, another soldier attacked.  One of Rohan’s men.

Tornado E was jumping up and down.  Tornado S’s eyes were big.

Me: The warrior and the Witch King fought.  They swung their swords, slashing and crashing.  (I mimicked sword play.)  Soldiers and orcs stopped to watch.  No other warrior had fought the Witch King this long.  The warrior sliced off the head of the Nazgûl and defeated the Witch King.  The warrior thrusted in under the Witch King’s guard.  As the Witch King laid on the ground, dying, he whispered, “No man born of woman can defeat me.”  The warrior removed his helmet, and it was Eowyn.  She said, “I am no man.”  She killed the Witch King and saved the day because if he hadn’t died, Gondor would not have stood.

I paused.

Me: What do you think?

Tornado E: The girls must have been so excited that it was Eowyn.

Me: The girls AND boys were excited that Eowyn defeated the Witch King.  She was awesome.  There are lots of awesome stories about girls.

Tornado E: Like Brave?!

Me: Yup.  When I was a little girl, there weren’t so many stories about awesome girls.  I didn’t like the princess movies.  Even now they make more exciting books about boys than girls.  I just read a writer asking a publisher, a guy who makes books, why there were still more books about boys than girls.  And the publisher said girls are boring.  Can you believe that?

Tornado E: That’s dumb.

Me: Yup.  That’s why I want to get you books about girls AND boys having exciting adventures.  If you read only about one, you’ll miss all kinds of stories about the other.

Tornado S: Princess Leia is awesome!  She fights!

Me: Yup.  She’s awesome.

Parenting.  Teaching my boys that girls are just as good as boys.  And training them to be nerds.

Recap 5-11

1. Sometimes I wonder if having a job that pays would be easier and more boring.

2. I don’t know why I torture myself by going to church by myself with the tornadoes.  Including the two-year-old.

3. More balance this week.  Thumbs up.  A lot more stuff done and to do.  Um. Thumbs.  Um.  Right.

4. Tornado A can recognize the “Golden Arches” and say “McDonald’s.”  I swear.  We haven’t been there in months.

5. How does an adult lose a piece of a game before the kids can play it?

6. “Hi!  I’m J.  I hate it when people form groups and leave someone just standing there.  What’s your name?”  I think I’m going to like this woman.

7. “I figured out the boys have an authority issue and deal with it passive-aggressively.”  None of Tornado E’s old kindergarten teachers were surprised.  Why was I the last to know?

8. I totally think the person who chose the cover of this week’s Time Magazine hates breastfeeding.  No, we don’t need another “Mommy War.”  And most of us are trying to convince society that breastfeeding is natural and non-sexual.  The cover will only make it worse for us.  Sure, most of us think it’s weird.  But everyone does some weird parenting thing.  Oh. And it’s not sexual!

9. I also am convinced that my state government hates women.  Any one have moving suggestions?

10. Tornado S is out of school next Wednesday. Tornado E gets out a week after that.  I have nothing planned this summer.  NOTHING.  I’m screwed.  So very screwed.

Just a song on the radio

Tornado E: Turn it up, Mommy!

The song had become popular in the last couple weeks.  Always on the radio.  Every time I heard it half listening, as I drove, as I answered questions or settled squabbles.  But something never sat right.  It was a catchy tune, but something just wasn’t right. . . .   I said as much.

No, it’s just a good song.  Faster than my brother.

Me: No.  (Pause)  It’s “out run my gun.”  Oh my god.  It’s “faster than my bullet.”

A shiver ran up my spine.  And I was lost in a memory.

***

It was a beautiful day.  I was coming back to the dorms between classes and work.  I figured I tried to get some homework done.  Or a nap.  Probably a nap.

The rabbits frolicked in the grass.  I had to admit CA had some nice weather at random times.  I walked passed the barricades and around the dorm into the quad, hoping that The Violinist was home, meaning our door would be wide open, but it also meant marching band music would be blasting.  I shuddered.  I got ready to bounce to a run.  She should be home.

She wasn’t.  Drat.  I kept strolling.

But the suitemates were.  Or one of them.  Their door was open.  Cool.  I’ll pop in for a hello and then walk through the hallway into my dorm room.  Probably better this way.  I kinda want that nap.

I walked through the quad, ignoring the winding sidewalk.  I stuck my tongue out at Satan Bunny.  I strolled into the suitemates’ room.

Me: Hey-.

Something was wrong.  The Sleepy Suitemate (We were so sure she was going to flunk out since she overslept her classes all the time.  Even the afternoon ones!) was up, sitting sideways on her chair.  The Sweet Suitemate (She had the dorm room all to her self last semester, making it hers, making it a sanctuary with soft music and a comfortable bed) was on the futon bunk of her bunk beds, crushing a pillow to her chest.  Just inside the door to my right was My Guy Expert (My All American Guy, My Twin, we were so much a like we were sure I would be him if I was a boy, and he would be me.  Hell, we even had a similar look), who lived two doors down.  On my left stood The Writer (it would be this semester he would realize his calling, at the time he was a film student, reading his scripts in a wheel chair he had picked up somewhere.  It matched my thousands of glow in the dark stars, christmas lights, and kiddie pool.  We were a weird floor.), looking confused and distraught.  All of their eyes were glued to the TV.

I looked at the TV.  I read the caption.  I saw the high schoolers running.  I held my breath.  I listened to the reporter.  I stepped inside the room, standing between the boys.  I felt small, despite my height.

I noticed all the barefoot girls, who had to leave their clogs and heals behind.  That is why I always wore hiking boots, despite the snickers of some of my high school companions.

The footage was raw.  The reports coming in.  Conflicting.  No one knew how many.  Bombs.  Mafia.  Trench coat.  Well, that’s going to suck for all the goth kids throughout the country as the adults were going to ban those.

We watched.

The Writer: (quiet, as though to himself) I know kids there.  They were our rival high school.

From distant horror, the mood spiraled into grief without another word spoken.

I, who never was good at these things, growing up with boys who punched their emotions, placed my hand on The Writers shoulder.  We stood there.  Watching.

And it was a beautiful day.

***

“Fae, no one fought back.”

The Friendly Giant sounded young, small, vulnerable.  Well, he should.  He was my baby brother.  Just a freshman in high school.  Not the Giant yet.  I was still taller than him.

I sat perched on the sink ledge, back against the wall, feet pressed against the other wall.  It was the only thing keeping me from tumbling to the floor as I cradled the phone.  It was Sunday night, the night to call home, days after that afternoon.  The folks were late coming home from Grandma’s and Grandpa’s.  But The Friendly Giant was home, and he, to my amazement, was willing to talk more than the word fine.

The Friendly Giant: They just huddled there in the far corners, waiting, trapped like . . . mice.  All it would have taken was one person.  One smart, brave person.  But they were too afraid.  Too afraid to do what was right.

Me: I know.

The Friendly Giant: What the fuck, Fae?!

He never cussed.  It was washed out of him at an early age.  He was the first to make the mistake in front of dad, the first to get his mouth washed out with soap, the first and the youngest.  He never cussed after that.  At least not in front of the family.

I wanted to hug him.  My teddy bear baby brother.  I understood.

Me: I know.  I don’t want to go out like that.

The Friendly Giant: I’ll fight.  I won’t go out like that.

Me: Better to face the bullet in hopes to take out the jerk than to huddle waiting for fate to make the decision for you.

The Friendly Giant: Yeah.  I’ll face the bullet.

Me: Me too.

It was a vow.   Something we would only hint on during the tragedies that would follow through the years.  We knew where we would stand.  We were too much like our father.  We couldn’t hide or run away.

***

I’m a poet.  I knew what they were doing when they wrote the song.  I get it.  It was well done.  But I had three innocents in my car.  They could wait to learn about sh*t like this.  I turned the radio to another channel.

Mirror, mirror

Some of the loveliest figures you see belong to mothers of one or more tots.  Soon yours will be slender again.  -Pg 32. Better Homes and Garden’s Baby Book.  Meredith Publishing, 1943

Ha.

I should have known from the book that told me my morning sickness was all in my head.  Puking my guts out every morning and feeling like chewed gum stuck to the bowl of a drinking fountain is not in my head.

This summer, whenever we were out in public where women wore bathing suits, I checked out women.  I was wondering when I would “be syphlike again” (32).  Not that I was that before.  I think my mother in law refers to me as a Viking princess (and I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a compliment or not). But still I wondered if other women had a figure like mine and, if one day, I will have my body back.  Not the high school girl one. I promise.  I like my curves.  But I would settle to my early twenties body; no longer rail thin, not close to perfect, but something I’m comfortable with, something that is healthy.

First off, no one with a toddler was sylphlike.  Even as they chased a running toddler this way or that, the moms had just a little more weight than they should.  The thinner ones had children in elementary school years or older.  Well, at least, I’m on target.

Second, I was amazed by what other women wore.  There were, of course, the I-secretly-hate-you bodies wearing tiny, cute bikinis as they sunbathed, watching their offspring from afar.  Women, with beautiful bodies, thin, with flat stomachs and nice legs, hid their bodies in one pieces and cover-ups.  Many overweight women wore coverups.  But my eyes were drawn to the slightly overweight women who chased their children, wearing bikinis.  Women with guts like mine wore bikinis.

Who are these women who have accepted their flaws, their after-children bodies?  And who were these women with hot bodies that chose to hide them instead of flaunt them?

Last week I joined a few of my friends for breakfast.  When the subject turned to my mother, we admitted our envy over her decision of surgery.  My mom can go get the fat in her belly removed and put into her breast to reshape it.  And oh, while we have you open,  we’ll just tuck in your belly as well.  Um.  Envy.  As we daydreamed over the possibility, one friend talked about how she would like the surgery.  The room grew silent as we concealed our hostile glares at our petite, thin mother of six-year twins.  “You don’t need it.”  “Yes, but I would like to have a pair of breasts.”

So there you have it, each one picking ourselves apart like a chicken dinner.  I have always wondered how personal feminism got.  Does subjection start in the bathroom as we stare into the mirror looking for flaws, things we want to change?  Is it ok to want to look better?  Or should we just enjoy who were are and accept our flaws like badges?

I don’t know.  Some days I’m ok with my pregnancy-ravaged body, taking comfort that I’m healthier than I was before I got pregnant.  Other days I remember how I had a flat stomach created with hundreds upon hundreds of crunches or the tiny, tight pot belly I had before the boys.  Then I just want to call a plastic surgeon and work out a deal on credit.   I don’t think I can keep questioning my looks.  It takes too much energy and effort.  I can strive for changing what I can (with healthy eating and exercise) and accept what I cannot change (blaming it on pregnancy and genetics).

At least, that’s what I say now.  Ask me tomorrow when I glance in the mirror.