Thursday, September 25, 2014

the gunman situation

One week ago today.

I didn't really want to go to Phoenix.  It's hot there, it requires an overnight stay, and it's hot there.  It's fall, guys, if you hadn't noticed.  Sitting in a cabana poolside drenched in sweat holds no appeal.  NONE.  But turns out, when you've got good friends who you casually tell over your second glass of pinot that yeah, you're SUPPOSED to go for a follow up MRI this month but meh, no symptoms too much work blablabla .... your friends will stare you down with their best "girl no" faces and tell you you're going to that follow up MRI.  So, fine, I call and there's a cancellation opening and I book it.  Reserved a hotel room and a cheap rental car and an exorbitantly priced direct flight to the state next door.  Then travel day came, Thursday.  Mabel was up every hour or so the night before with what was obviously just a cold but I blew up in my head to be the makings of that terrible respiratory virus AND IT WAS GOING TO DO HER IN, YOU GUYS.  Anderson, in the throes of new-school-kid emotions (OMG THE EMOTIONS!) didn't want anything to do with his mama leaving town.  Vivian?  She asked if I could take her to Mommo's and leave Wednesday or maybe Tuesday even, thanksalot.  I just didn't want to go.  I don't like leaving my kids, my husband, my zoo.  I was missing the elementary school open house and THAT'S UNFORGIVEABLE.  But, more grumbles, I packed my suitcase and got my little people to the places they were to stay in my absence, and I went.

The flight was uneventful.  I had a row to myself, I put my feet up and finished off a book I'd been reading snippets of for about six weeks with no time to finish.  Diet Coke, deep breaths, hey maybe this won't be so bad!

Then I landed, and got off the plane, and started to navigate my way toward the rental car area.  In retrospect, it was suspiciously quiet in the gate area of the nation's 10th busiest airport.  I wasn't paying that much attention, though, concerned as I was with getting out, grabbing my rental car and peeling out of the airport before rush hour trapped me on the freeway in an unfamiliar city.  So I kept moving, exited the security area, kept my eyes trained above on the signs pointing this way and that, and ran smack dab into a whole mob of people where the escalators should've been.


For a thrilling split second, I thought maybe there was a CELEBRITY.  Like one of the Teen Moms or a Housewife or BACHELOR CHRIS THE FARMER (dream big, lady!)  But no.

I made my way through the crowd and got close enough to the top of the escalators to see police stationed at each roped off escalator.  And then I noticed that the police had guns out.  Eh.....?  Listen, I'm no expert in Arizona but that didn't seem like normal behavior for a state populated by geriatric retirees and such.

So I stood there in the crowd, trying to stay calm, listening to my fellow passengers chatter around me.  People seemed to think there had been some kind of accident down below, outside the baggage claim.  Someone got hit by a car, I heard a lady say.  And listen, I've got a heart as big as the next girl, but COME ONNNNN.  Let me out!  Rush hour!  I've got big Chickfila and sweatpants and chick flick  in my hotel bed plans, guys!  Standing in place with nothing better to do, I texted a friend.  "Grumble grumble in Phoenix airport something is weird here, grumble."

And the friend responded.  And her response made my world start spinning a little faster.

"I don't even think you want me to tell you."

I texted back a few choice words and suggested she JUST TELL ME NOW, and she told me the airport was on lockdown because of a gunman situation.

You just never know how you'll react in such a situation, do you?  Will you freeze up, break down, run and scream, coolly hide?  Initially, I turned to the girl beside me with whom I'd been sharing concerned looks, and simply showed her my screen with the friend's message displayed.  Then, I looked around and realization dawned that probably where I didn't want to be if there were, indeed, a gunman, was right here in the open in a crowd full of people, ANY OF WHOM could be the suspect.  Okay maybe not the 97 year old sitting in his wheelchair beside me shouting into his Jitterbug phone.   He didn't look the part.  But anyone else.  So slowly, I turned and walked casually to the farthest corner I could find.  JUST KIDDING I TURNED AND RAN, carry-on suitcase bumping along behind me.  SMOOTH OPERATOR.  I spotted a coffee shop open to the terminal, and an open space in the back of the shop.  There, I found a chair in a corner against a brick wall with (SCORE!!!) an electrical outlet to charge my phone.  Hiding spot, and insurance that I'd have phone life enough to call my loved ones for a last goodbye?  As good as it gets, when you're in a locked down airport with a gunman on the loose.

I don't mean to make light.  It was terrifying.  I broke down at one point and accepted hugs and a tissue from my new friends who'd joined me in my corner, guys who tried to make jokes but whose true concern was written all over their faces.  I texted friends who I knew could be counted on for keeping calm.  One friend got ahold of a picture of the suspect, which made me feel LOADS better because before that, I was fixing to use my Durango boots to kick the snot out of anyone who came within five feet of my corner.  One friend put her husband on, and her husband pointed out that they thought the guy was in the baggage claim.  So I was safe, he said, but the guy was probably trying on all my clothes and using my blush.  (Insert big inappropriate guffaw here, drawing stares.)  I said to myself, over and over, how staggeringly grateful I was that I didn't have my kids along.  How rare that was!  I've traveled solo so few times and with the kids in tow so many ..... to this exact airport just four weeks before ..... thank GOD this was a rare solo trip.  They would've been so terrified.  And impatient.  And my fear would've been tenfold with their little lives on the line.  Hundredfold.

In the end, after two hours in the corner, it was all okay.  Oh, it was madness, when the upper level police released us to the baggage area, where the lower level police were NOT anticipating seeing us and quickly chased us outside.  We'd presumed, when we were freed from the lockdown, that this meant the suspect was apprehended.  But as we stood, on the curb in 100 degree heat, with no running cabs or busses or rental car shuttles or ANY WAY OF ESCAPING ..... it became clear (judging by the guns and the shouts from the officers outside) that the gunman had not, in fact, been apprehended.  At long last busses pulled up and doors opened and there were elbows jabbing and feet stomping as panicked people fought their way on.  My elbows are extra pointy, I guess, because I found myself on the second bus as hundreds were left to wait.  I had no idea where the bus was going, just that it was away.  And away was good enough for me, just then.

They found the guy shortly after my elbows and I rode away on the bus.  Nobody at the airport was hurt.  It was a mess, a terrible scare, a gross inconvenience (I never did get my rental car).  But it ended without incident.  I didn't sleep so well the first few nights, and woke screaming to the sound of thunder another, but all in all, I've filed this ones on my "times I cheated death and/or serious injury" list (which is shockingly lengthy, so I DO think maybe I'm part cat with the nine lives and such.)  And swore never to travel again.  Oh just kidding I'm flying again next month.  But I'll go prepared with some calming essential oils and Ambien next time, is what.

Oh and my MRI was perfectly normal, thankyouverymuch.

Story here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


No, YOU have a six year old!  I surely don't, because people who have six year old children are old and I'm so young I've barely cleared six myself.  I certainly do NOT have a six year old, Spiderman obsessed, football jersey sporting, little sister terrorizing, kindergarten going boy.  A kid who, last night, brought home a handmade sight word book and read me the gosh darn thing like some kind of TEENAGER KID.

Okay, so maybe I do have a six year old.  Maybe, while Mabel had a snack and some Sesame Street time this morning, I sat down and pulled up the story of Mister A's arrival (here) and cried a bit over the past gone-in-a-flash six years, over the sweet pink cheeked infant who seemed so BIG to me on this day in 2008, but who now, in comparison to the six year old boy who now occupies our household, looks impossibly tiny.  I had no idea.  I had no idea how September 17th would change everything.  I had no idea how he'd grow so fast out of his babyhood that it's like it happened in our sleep one night.  How he'd challenge us, how he'd inspire us, how he'd make us laugh every single day.  How he'd thrive in some ways and struggle in other ways and just make me so darn proud in ALL his ways.   I had no idea how those sacrifices I made to get him here - the endless appointments, the tears, the night-consuming fears, the discomfort of those insulin-checking finger pokes (and the excruciating, sweaty walks through the hottest summer EVER in Austin when too-high numbers flashed on the screen), the fifty pounds (FIFTY.  DAMN.  POUNDS.) - how those were all a trivially nominal price to pay for the kind of joy motherhood had in store.  For that first slobbery kiss right on my lips, that first "luh-you", that first wobbly step into my arms.  For his laughter, for his kind heart, for his uniquely Buggy ways.  I'd do it all twenty times over again for the gift of this boy who made me Mom.

My Bug, six.  Unbelievable.

Monday, September 15, 2014

the cheese stands alone

Oh, MG.  This one's been a prize-winning tagalong from day one.   The plight of a thirdborn child, no?  Two days home from the hospital, she was toted along on a shoe shopping expedition because each of the Faketwins had lost exactly one shoe, so we were two short of a pair.  (You may remember, our belongings had already moved to Colorado, leaving us in the Wisconsin woods in a two bedroom cabin with just a suitcase full of belongings and but a single shred of sanity.)  She maybe was abandoned for five seconds in the shoe aisle when I had one Faketwin and J had the other Faketwin and we each thought the other had the baby but turned out NOBODY HAD THE GOSHDARNED BABY.  Eleven days home from the hospital, we strapped MG in and drove (and drove, and drove....) halfway across the country to our new home.  A few days after that, Bug started preschool and we were on the run again.  Drop off, pick up, repeat repeat, nap schedule be darned.  Faketwins did gymnastics, soccer, ice skating, swimming .... and MG, she tagged along.  Birthday parties, play dates, preschool story times, teacher conferences.  Nothing was MG's own.


With Bug at kindergarten five days a week, and Vivi off at pre-K three days a week, Mabes is finally, FINALLY getting her time to shine.  Yes, thank you, she WOULD like to eat the last apple in the house!  Her hands are on ALL the toys.  She's dismantling Lego houses and stripping down immaculately dressed dolls and she doesn't even CARE.  She's in her first gymnastics class, and let me tell you, if you haven't seen a two year old do gymnastics in a leotard you need to get on that.  Because CUTE.  We do lunches whenever we want, lunches where MG actually behaves and converses nicely because there's nobody stealing her last cucumber slice or snatching the Dora book out of her hands.  She can sit wherever she damn well pleases in the grocery cart, you guys!  That's HUGE!

If you can't surmise that I'm loving this one-kid time as much as Mabel is, then you've never run errands with one kid.  Only one set of removed and thrown off shoes to tie on before exiting the vehicle!  Only one parking lot suicide mission to circumvent!  Nobody's touching anybody and screaming about it and making all the people everywhere stare!  But beyond the sweat-reducing convenience factor is this cherished time with my tiniest girl, who's growing all too fast.  Three days a week, for six whole hours, I'm all hers and she's all mine.  She gets to talk and talk and I've got all the time for listening.  She's finally getting a turn to choose a book from the bookstore, one she can hold in the car on the drive home and hear in its entirety before nap time.  She can call the shots when we get home.  Do we go outside?  Head inside?  Spend five minutes examining a bird feather we find in the garage?  What we totally DON'T do is get into a brawl over who's going to wash their hands first or who pinched whose fingers in the shoe closet or whose turn it is to choose a nap time story so can I get an AMEN?  Amen!

Friday, September 12, 2014

on becoming school people

Kindergarten.  It once seemed a far off concept, a foreign place where big kids went, a place I mostly didn’t give any thought to. I remember sitting in baby A’s playroom in our Austin house, a converted dining room facing the street.  He was tiny, we’d been up for hours, and together we watched the backpack wearing school kids run past our house to catch the bus.  The world where I had kids with backpacks and lunch boxes and places to GO (places besides Target and Hobby Lobby with their mama) seemed light years away from that morning with a footie-jammied newly sitting baby trying to stack one block onto another with his chubby little fists.  But all the supermarket old ladies were right - the time, it flew by.  The long long days of babyhood and toddlerhood and preschoolhood zoomed by and before I knew it I was ordering a Spiderman backpack and a robot lunchbox for my baby.  The sticky summer, those dragging days of pajamas until noon and the leaky backyard pool, days where 5:00 might as well have been the middle of the night for how far off it felt at 3pm (when they’d been up from their nap for an hour and were already bored of the leaky backyard pool)…..well, the summer abruptly packed up and out at the end of August and left school days standing tall in its place. 

It’s been a GOOD transition, I must say.  Smoother and happier than I feared it might be.  We haven't had as many teary drop-offs as I'd feared we might with A, the resident "drop off crier".  He's made friends, friends he likes enough that he'll instruct me to roll down his window as we pull out of the school, because he's spotted this friend or that and needs to say "BYE FRIEND!"  He likes hot lunch, he's amazed by the 'puter lab where he gets to work at his own 'puter, I've noticed him speaking more clearly and writing his name more neatly than he did even three weeks ago.  He's got the loveliest teacher, whose welcoming hug put him at ease those few days when we did have a tough drop off.  The school kid is TIRED.  Goodness gracious, is he tired.  The days of bedtime shenanigans are, for now anyway, history.  I forgot to give Anderson his mandatory pre-bed hug and kiss one night when J handled tuck-in.  Maybe four minutes later, when I realized my mistake and was surprised I hadn’t yet heard him holler “MOM!!!  YOU FORGOT MY HUG AND KISS!”, I went upstairs to find him out cold.  Exhausting, the business of learning to be a school kid.  It really is.

It’s exhausting to be the mom of a newly minted school kid, too.  My alarm goes off before dawn.  And then it goes off again 5 minutes after I fumble for the snooze button.  And, um, again 5 minutes later.  BUT ANYWAY.  Up early.  Coffee, mascara, a non-yoga pair of real pants, an actual bra when all summer I lived in a sports bra until noon.  Just kidding, until dinner.  (When I changed into a fresh one.)  You all know the drill, I know you do, you’re probably doing it, too.  More exhausting than those bleary eyed early mornings of combing down sleep-tossled hair and tugging on socks so they can shovel in a few more spoonfuls of Cheerios, is, well, the art of just BEING a school mom.  Figuring out the precise absolute last minute we can leave the house to make it to school on time (7:27am, if it’s not raining and we hit both stop lights on green).  Figuring out where to park, where to walk (there's a technique to avoiding the soggy parts of the soccer field between the parking spot and the door, you see).  Figuring out when he’s ready for a car line drop off so I can quit putting on real pants to take him to school, for heaven's sake.  Figuring out how to LET GO.  That’s the toughie, my friends.  Letting go.  Letting go of his nervous grip on those first few days where he was teary eyed and plaintive in his urgently whispered request to just take him back home and watch Paw Patrol (oh, it was so hard to say no!)  Letting go of control.  I’ve had a lot of control these past 6 years.  What he ate, how he was made to feel, when he slept/played/napped, where he went and who he met.  No longer.  He told me, this morning on our 12 minute (non rainy day, green light hitting) drive to school, that he’s sometimes “soooooo cold” on the playground during morning recess that he has to hide inside the tunnel.  Quizically, I asked him how he was cold when we were diligent about packing along his favorite cozy zip-up sweatshirt every day.  “I just can’t remember to put it on all the time, mommy!”  And the pre-school mom in me, the baby-mom one who’s been making sure his sweatshirt was zipped up to his neck before we went to play for the last 6 years, thought “WHAT?  Colorado mornings are COLD!  Someone needs to make sure he has his freaking sweatshirt on!  I should mention this to his teacher!  RAWR RAWR MAMA BEAR!”  And then, the light bulb moment of realization that this, this learning of things the trial-and-error hard way, is a good part of why he’s THERE at school.  Yeah, it’s ABCs and 123s, but it’s also responsibility.  Self-accountability.  Decision making.  And for me?  It's letting go.  Not chewing my lip today when I know it’s morning recess time, worried that he’s cold and upset and rolled into a ball inside the tunnel ….. letting go.  Trusting that he’s fine.  And that if he’s not fine, if he’s cold and upset, that he’ll probably remember the sweatshirt next recess time.  And he’ll have learned.  And he'll have done his kindergartener job, done what he's there to do.  Grow up, as hard as that is to accept.  It's why we're here, right?  Every day, to let go a little more so we're not in our real pants at dawn in the year 2027, trailing a college freshman across campus holding out a zip up hoodie?  BECAUSE LAME?

Day by day.  We're getting the hang of this school life, my Bug and me.  And with that, I wrap it up.  We have to leave this house in exactly 27 minutes if we're going to get a prime school pick-up parking position.  I KNOW THINGS, YALL!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

a tiptoe

Hey.  Hello.  This thing on?

I'm sneaking back in.  I'd turned this place off, just pulled the plug one pensive weekday afternoon when I'd been thinking through the blog thing and what the point was and how much I really wanted out there.  Online.  In public.  In this expansive frontier ..... do my kids want to be a part of it?  Are their tales mine to share?  Will they one day thank me for connecting their grown up selves to the elfin children they once were?  Or will they feel I somehow violated their trust, spilling our quiet moments together out into the noisy world?  Could I tame down the personal nature of the version of their days I put online, or would that sort of censure defeat the entire purpose of being here in the first place?  What's my point here?  It started, quite simply, to get me through the darkest days.  It continued, after baby Bug's arrival, to share my joy.  To keep far off family informed and connected.  It grew, from there, as a place for me to flex my stiffened creative muscles, a place to connect with other parents and parents to be, a place to share the things I needed to share and ask the things I needed to ask.  And I'm finding, some days, I dearly miss that outlet.  That place to put my thoughts, to share the laughs and the angst and the minutiae of life with little children.  And cats.  So many cats.

So I'm tiptoeing back to my blog.  I may never turn it on again, publicly.  I may share the link with close family and friends and leave it there.  I might just flip all the switches back on tomorrow morning without a word and see where it goes.  I do know this - there'll have to be less about the kids as they grow.  Privacy will become more pertinent as they grow into school kids (so soon!) and become bashful about their home life in that way school kids always do.  And beyond that, their lives, their moments, I want to share whole heartedly in those and not mentally photograph and draft my words in such precious times and in turn, miss out on the real action.  The squeeze around my knees from little MG, tickled by the bounce of the rubber ball I bought her at City Market.  The smooch straight on the lips from my V, for no reason other than she's V and she's smoochy.  The high five from Bug, after he connects racket with ball and knocks it across the yard after so many attempts ended with a wild swat through the air and teeth gritted in frustration.

I heard a song today, as I whipped powdered sugar and shortening into frosting for the Easter sugar cookies V painstakingly cut into flower shapes and egg shapes earlier this morning.  The song, it grabbed me. It put words to the breathless feeling that comes over me so often lately.  Looking at my children, seeing long bony legs and newly freckled noses where chubby knees and porcelain skin once were.  Out the window, grass greening up when I'm sure, so sure, it was Christmas just moments ago.  It's all gaining momentum, with each year I add to my age.  Looking at Facebook, seeing the little cousin I once snuggled to sleep when he stayed with me while his parents traveled, scared of the dark and missing his mommy, beaming behind the wheel of his first car.  Blowing my birthday candles earlier this month, bumping up to an age less "early 30s" and more "IN MY DAMN 30s".  (Okay, I didn't even get to blow my candles out.  Faketwins done spit them out for me.  Details.)  It's not so much that I want to go back, because where we're at is glorious, in the back breaking way life with three young children is glorious.  It's just, more so, awe at the blur it's all becoming.  Anyway, this song.  (Gabe Dixon Band, And the World Turned.)

Girl stood on the rocks with the water at her feet
the sun on her skin and a tear on her cheek
With her hand on her chest and the wind in her hair
Underneath her breath like a beggar's prayer she said

I miss you, come back to me
I wish you'd come back to me

But nobody heard
And the world turned and the world turned and the world turned

And thats when the girl reached in her pocket
pulled out a silver heart-shaped locket
Opened it up and stared for a while at her faded boy
with a lazy smile, oh how

I miss you, come back to me
I wish you'd come back to me

But nobody heard
And the world turned and the world turned and the world turned

Thursday, December 19, 2013

wait what?

Did someone just say that in one week, Christmas will be OVER?  HOW?  WHY?  NOOOOOO!

This season has just flown by, no?  The late-falling Thanksgiving, was that it?  Just a moment ago I was sorry-not-sorry for pulling out some of my Christmas decor before you'd all bought your turkey and now ..... it's here.  Gifts are (mostly) wrapped, minus a few stragglers Amazon and Zappos should be throwing on my porch any minute now.  (Get moving on those drones, yall!)  Christmas cards adorn the wall, and more arrive every night when the mailman finally makes his way up the mountain to our last-on-the-route 'hood.  MIL's here from Texas to share in the joy, Uncle's due this weekend from Denver.  Christmas parties have been had by both Bug and Viv, and the resulting sugar high insanity has been survived.  House is all put back together from the pajama party we had at our house with seven of their preschool besties last weekend.  The preschool Christmas program?  Today.  (Please don't puke, please don't puke, LIKE LAST YEAR!)  A holiday party with some neighborhood ladies?  Tonight.  Pajama-clad trip on the Polar Express?  Saturday.  Oh, and who could forget SANTA?

Mabel would like to forget Santa, actually.  The big kids couldn't have cared less that Santa was a bit snarly, and I couldn't have cared less that Santa gave me the stink eye in response to the "bitchplease" face I made when he requested I sit on his lap (HUH?) with my screaming baby (YEAH NO, hold her, I'm not paying $30 for this AND doing your job for you, Santa.)  Mabel?  Well, she probably couldn't have cared less if we'd just skipped this outing entirely and just put something exciting under the tree for her on Christmas morn.  Like, you know, a box.  Or rippy paper.  Or my car keys.  (I trust you've read this?  If not, go now, and thank me later.)

Ah, Christmas.  Just slow it down this last week, would you?  I don't want you to end!

(Oh, what, you didn't know I got another cat?  Yeah.  Oops.  THESE THINGS HAPPEN!)

Monday, December 2, 2013

the tree post

Gave our thanks, ate the ham and stuffing, made a Black Friday excursion to Target with my brother just out of curiosity (emerging with only a peppermint mocha apiece, three pieces of kids' clothing, and a general sense of bewilderment) (because OMG BLACK FRIDAY PEOPLE BE CRAY) .... then onto the legal Christmassing!  The first stop, as is tradition in our new lives as Coloradans, was the San Juan National Forest.  Where I eschewed all trees under the 9,000 foot mark and forced J to climb higher and higher and HIGHER GOSH DARNIT with his chainsaw until I found just the right Tannenbaum for our living room.  It's hard to breathe up there, yall.  And the snow was up to my waist.   SEE WHAT I DO FOR CHRISTMAS?
do i have the cutest sister and brother in the world?  why yes.  yes, i do.
sparky is a big tough man.

Success!  Victorious, we drove home to the sound of the Glee Christmas soundtrack I can't get enough of (but J can....), set up the tree, and admired our work for a whole twenty minutes before the kitten climbed the helloutta that tree and knocked it down and threw bits of forest debris from one end of the living room to the other.  Fa la la la LAAAAAAA.  As of 9am today we were down two (sentimental) ornaments (yay, kids!) and had already stripped the tree down and dressed it back up again when I spent a good hour last night tossing and turning over the painstaking decision I'd made to do the colored lights (FUN MOM!) when what I really wanted was the classy white lights.  So, you know, DO OVER.  (Kids were thrilled, for the record, because it meant they got to fight over who got to hang which ornament where alllllll over again!)

No but for real?  I love this all.  The tree, the kitty, the nightly Advent snuggle up and read time with the red pajama clad kids.  And the glitter!  And the music!  And the GLITTER!