Penguin was complaining of ear pain today, so he stayed home from school and Papa Bird took him to the doctor. Aside from an ear infection, he was saddled with an impressive amount of earwax. I knew that he had gone in to the doctor, but he didn’t know that I knew this, so I allowed him to tell me the tale. He mentioned that he was talking to his doctor, and oh she is nice by the way (his words) and she took out something and put it in his ear and she pulled out about 20 pieces of earwax. Except that when he got home he could feel another piece of earwax coming out, so really it was 21 pieces of earwax that was in his ear after all.

Owl had  a front row seat in witnessing the carnage and told me that it was very gross. Then he told me that he liked me. Then he asked me what I was eating and I told him it was a cashew, to which he replied, “That’s lovely.”

It’s funny, because even though Papa Bird is the primary caregiver, both boys really mimic my phrases and speech patterns. It’s the salve to my reality that I can’t be here with them 24-7 and lets me know my time with them – even when lower than I’d like on weekdays – must really mean something to them. Which really means something to me.

In the annals of awesome parenting, I thought I would be pretty high up there with my recent scoring of a Minecraft Essentials book at the library. I even had to put it on hold, and when I got the message from the library that it was in, I raced over to retrieve it after work. I thumbed through it excitedly during stoplights on the way home, thinking I was going to gain major child pleasing points when I walked in the door.

As I entered, I waved the book in Penguin’s direction. He was, of course, playing Minecraft, so I had to tempt him away from Minecraft with the promise of even more Minecraft. He excitedly flipped through the book and asked me to read him the recommended tips and tricks. As I did, the most common refrain was, “Yes, I know that…I know that…Actually, it is better if you…That doesn’t work, but…I knew that…Yes…I do it this way…”

And so on and so forth throughout the book. It should come as no surprise, of course, since he regularly schools his father on how to play and has all but given up on me. I tried to play once, and he enacted that same patient voice that I engage any time I am trying to teach him something but it’s clear he’s not getting it so can I just do it for you already? He says he wants me to play with him more, but I’m not sure his love of me can withstand my total lack of player skills.

Ah well. He still enjoys me reading from the book and looking at the pictures. And if I do take him up on his offer to play again, the book will be just MY speed.

Last night, before bed, Owl and I had ourselves a little chat about Christmas. What prompted this was my question about what Owl would be dreaming of that night as he lay in slumber. Owl said, “Snow, and playing outside with cats in the snow.” This seems ambitious, at best. But I am not here to serve as the killer of dreams.

This conversation about snow and snow-covered cats led to a discussion of Christmas. Pencils a’ready folks: Owl would like toy cars. All toy cars. Small ones. In all colors. Owl would also like a large, squishy yellow and pink ball. Just that please. Cars and a ball.

The birthday request gets a little trickier. After the Christmas discussion, I mentioned that his birthday would be just a bit before Christmas and what would he like to receive on that day? He stated, “I want to be 14. Then I can drive Penguin to school. And Daddy.” I mentioned that one needs to be 16 to drive. “I want to be 16. And drive Penguin. And drive Daddy.”  I asked him what car he would like to drive. “Mama’s car. In blue.”

So there you have it.

But realized in your heart that you missed it? And then hated yourself just a bit for failing to keep the promise that you made to yourself about documenting the magic of your children’s’ lives and the joy and wonder that they bring you?

Yeah, me too.

I’m going to reboot this. I can’t dwell on the disappointment that I feel having missed months and years of writing here, recording the life that is mine with two little birds. But at the same time, that disappointment is not a good rationale for failing to dust off, pick up and start again. Life is always about the reboot of the best intentions, no?

Oh and yes, still dissertating. And NO, I don’t want to talk about it. I want to do the opposite of that. And I have a new job.

Penguin and Owl are fabulous. Let me introduce them to you again.


Coincidentally, I both literally and figuratively cannot catch my breath at the moment. I have had a horrid cold that turned into a horrid chest/head infection scenario, complete with antibiotics. It is the epitome of end of summer fun.

So much has happened since I last wrote and then, so much has stayed the same. What has stayed the same is this internal, nagging guilt that I am not writing memories on here for posterity. I want to, and then when I set about to parcel out the time, it generally gets snatched away by something unexpected. Maybe, then, a recap and a commitment to moving forward?

So what has changed?

  • Penguin has started kindergarten. For our family, it was less of a major transition than some of the neighbors experienced, since he has been going to preschool since he was 4 years old. But what has changed is that he is going every day as opposed to 3-4 days a week. And he is in the kindergarten room, learning kindergarten things like math and science.
  • Also? Penguin is big. I mean, I look back at pictures and then I look at him now and now I say to myself, “That’s a kid right there. A tall, solid, fully formed kid in front of my eyeballs.” It startles me sometimes. Because I live with him and see him every day, I don’t notice the changes until they are so jarring as to shock me into realization. The other day, I laid out a pair of jeans that he wore at the start of the summer, before it got so hot. He put them on and it looked like he was waiting for the flood (does anyone/people of Wisconsin still say that anymore? My mother and I do). It was so noticeable, in fact, that I stood back and took a good look at the boy. And MY WORD. He has grown. In a few years, maybe by 4th or 5th grade, he’ll overtake me. And he is so handsome. So handsome. I know all mothers think this of their sons, and they should, but sometimes when I look at him, I take pause. Did we really create something so lovely?
  • And then there is my little Owl. He and Penguin share the same softness in their features – my nose, my lips, my eye shape (though their father’s color), probably my heart-shaped chin (though time will tell). But there is something of the fierce determination about Owl’s looks that differs from his brother’s visage. In him, I see that early, boyish sense of adventure and slightly mischief that harkens the Greek God, Pan. Whereas in Penguin I see Apollo, Owl’s lightness of foot, deft movements, delicate boyish/girlish features and unrelenting desire to be outside, exploring, investigating, playing, seem to spring forth from the mystical touch of Pan’s hoof. When Owl is outside, I wonder if he hears the faint strains of panpipe music where most of us just hear the sound of blowing wind. His father is similarly nature-inspired and I suspect he would say that he experiences something very different in nature than the vast majority of people.
  • Also? Owl talks now in ways that are recognizable to the vast majority of people. He still has his little peculiar speech quirks, quite like most kids of his age. But I understand most of what he says and when I don’t, I can usually figure it out after about a minute of his increasingly irritated repetition. Interestingly, he pronounces “k” as “sh,” which amuses me to no end as he chases our cat around the house, proclaiming loudly, “Awwww, I love my shitty!”
  • Speaking of cats, we lost our dear kitty Basil in July. That deserves its very own post and I am feeling like I can write that now. Up until this point, the thought of writing it was too sad to bear.
  • We took a vacation. It was to my parents’ house for a week and then to a family house in western Michigan. It was exactly what it needed to be. Quiet, calm, restorative. For the most part. Except for the cat dying, Owl ending up in the ED for nursemaid’s elbow, and me pulling my ab muscles so severely that I needed to go see a doctor to get a prescription muscle relaxant. However, during this same vacation, we attended a festival with my folks and Papa Bird and the boys. Have you ever gone to a small town America festival? I recommend that you try it at least once. After sidestepping bored youth looking for a touch of trouble, drunk guys that tell really loud jokes about hunting, and women in hairstyles that were pretty damn awesome eight years ago, you’d be amazed at how much you could absolutely love a pancake breakfast at a firehouse, a small carnival where one of the rides seemed constructed in someone’s garage/shop, and a fireworks show surrounded by people who love America so much that each explosion serves as a reminder to them of how great this county is, fuck yeah!
  • We attended our first wedding as a family this weekend. The boys had their very first kiddie cocktails, which for me, was the sole reason that you attended a wedding as a child. Also to run around a very large room while your parents looked on and laughed and talked to relatives. It was, for the boys, exactly as I remember weddings as a kid. Playing with cousins, eating too much cake, busting out errant dance moves disjointed from the music at hand, and a real sense that coming together for such a big, happy party was one of the coolest things ever. I love ceremony. Pomp and circumstance – these rituals play a role in our lives and every time I am a part of something like this, a giddy electricity courses through me and I can hardly contain myself. The boys seemed similarly electrified, and even the normally subdued Papa Bird showed signs of life.

And what has not changed?

Dissertation, mostly, I took an extension to complete my work since, technically, I was to have been out of the program in August. I am close. I know I say that all the time, but I really am very close. I am doing the data analyses now and I am writing up the final draft. It will happen soon. Soon. This is the last year. I work on the weekends, now, as opposed to sleep depriving myself all night. It means I miss out on our weekend adventures, something I put off for as long as possible. I really hate that. But we are at the end here and I needed the time. So close. Sooooo close.

Also, my ass is still spectacularly fat. I’ll work on that soon, too. Once I have more time. I already started watching what I eat, for the most part. Now I have to exercise. It will happen. Maybe not this month or the next month, but soon.

I make promises to myself that I will be back here writing every week, and every week I do, err, not that.

Same tired excuses. Work. Dissertation (<– major culprit).

So much has happened though. Penguin graduated from preschool. Owl is forming little sentences that resemble cognizant thoughts and not just two-year-old word salad. And we are cleaning our closets, getting rid of baby clothes and baby things. Don't even get me started on that one.

I'm here. We're here. We're good.