Monday, November 28, 2011

Due date , ten years later

I feel kind of as if I have been shot out of the ass end of an overstuffed turkey.

I survived hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Luckily some family members couldn't make it so it was only ten of us. I only had to call Ian three times while preparing and cooking the turkey. I'm proud of that. I'm not proud of the fact that I still have trouble distinguishing the turkey's head from its bottom. Ian thinks I'm kind of retarded. Those legs of theirs look like perfect arms, up and ready to box, if you ask me.

Remarkably, I came out of that turkey's butt feet first  and am now right back on the hamster wheel, racing towards the next false summit. This is America after all: Land of the free, home of the mindlessly busy. I had no idea just how good I had it in France, until I came back here and remembered what life lived consistently above a resting pulse, even while resting, felt like.

It's Esther's due date. I don't know how I caught it, but I remembered before I even left the house this morning to take the kids to school.

November 28th. "What a good date," I thought. Good numbers. Ha ha. Little did I know due dates are nothing more than an educated guess about when your baby might be thoroughly cooked. Oh yea, and they provide an arbitrary number upon which all pregnant women tend to fixate on and feel inadequate about. And friends and random onlookers  use to annoy you and judge your fitness as a mother with: "Honestly, haven't you had that baby yet?" "I think I smell something burning.""You're gonna give birth to a baby elephant if you keep growing like that."

That day, ten years ago, when Essie was still camped out in my inflated, turbulent belly, was a lot like today. I remember standing on the front porch in my nightgown, looking out at the dry, gray/brown/pathetically-faded green landscape with hints of purple on the mountains, and feeling the eerily warm wind flow across my bare ankles.

The weather disappointed me. I wanted a winter baby. Where was winter? I do realize winter doesn't technically start until the 21st of December, but since when does Vermont heed the calendar.

Where were those gently falling snowflakes that appeared in my mind each and every time I practiced my hypnobirthing relaxation routine. There I was, skating in a frozen gray pond, charcoal bare trees all around me, their limbs weighed down with fluffy white snow. The only noise, the sound of my skates scraping against the ice--punishing the frozen water with their sharp blades--and my breathing.

Steadily falling snow has always been the most relaxing thing I can think of. I have a friend, a tropical flower, who thinks I'm nuts.

"Everyone," she says, "but you, dreams of warm breezes and beaches when they want to relax."

Esther apparently wanted to be a winter baby too. She did not finally appear until the first minutes of December 12th. A good two weeks after her estimated due date.

It was rainy and cold the first day of her life, better than nothing, but still not snowing. The freeze came about a week later, and I still remember the look of her, asleep in her baby Bjorn, with snowflakes on her cheeks.

So now we are planning to touch down in London on Esther's tenth birthday, just an hour or two off of the exact time she was born. When I asked Esther what she wanted for her birthday recently, she answered,
"All I want for my birthday is Daddy."

Call me a child spoiler, but she is getting her wish. How could I turn down that request, after all these months without Ian, when we were planning to go to England anyway? 

 I'm not yet ready to consider that trip since I am first getting prepared to go to Guatemala. Yes, I'm going as a blogger to check out Save the Children live, in action.

I've been filling the freezer with easy-to-prepare food for my sister who will be moving in to take care of the girls. I've also been watching videos on the Save the Children-affiliate website See Where the Good Goes. 

What a reality check.  I've been so caught up in the logistics of taking a humanitarian trip like this, not to mention the giddy excitement of traveling to a completely foreign climate, I haven't saved  a minute to consider what it is I'm going to be doing, and seeing, and feeling once I get there.

I joked to one of the Save the Children liaisons about what I might do to keep myself from crying the whole time, I'm a crier in the face of any sign of human ... suffering, joy, hope, loss.....everything. And she told me not to worry, crying goes with the territory. Luckily they aren't expecting a robot.

"Hey, who's that weeping  lady in the corner?"

I leave in less than a week. In the meantime I will be wrestling with the middle-of-the night, irrational -thought demons. I've had the lost passport dream, the kidnapping dream, the never-ending travel itinerary that never reaches its destination dream, and the typical neurotic fears of one of the kids, or me, getting sick just before I leave.

That should take care of the prerequisite mom-anxiety, I hope. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is there an E-brake on this thing?

I once saw a bumper sticker on a pickup truck, I may have written about it before, that said,
"Get in, sit down, shut up and hang on."

That is exactly how life feels right now. 

This is not a complaint, but rather an explanation of sorts, as to why I cannot tell you where I have been or what I have been doing. I am, however, feeling compelled to write a list in hopes it may speak for me. Think of it as a very unpoetic poem:

A car has been purchased and it's not what I would have imagined in a million years. Suffice it to say, I remain an East Coast stereotype.

A birthday has been celebrated, someone turned six and someone has a new mermaid Barbie who wears so much eye makeup I'm wondering how she keeps her mascara from running underwater.

My sister was here over the weekend and I somehow tricked her into baking Isla's birthday cake, a sinful French chocolate cake, and cleaning the top of my kitchen cabinets, which were covered with a layer of grease and two years worth of dust. 

Ian learned a new song on his guitar and we spent a half hour on Saturday morning, with the phone on "speaker," listening to him serenade us from across the sea with deftly strummed chords.

When we put Ian on speaker phone, Isla has a habit of stealing him and hiding behind the couch in order to keep him to herself. This inevitably starts fights.

Esther wants to be with Ian on her 10th birthday, coming up on the 12th of December so we are shooting for being in England by that date.

I might be going to Guatemala as a guest blogger with the Save the Children organization: Fingers crossed, breath held, scream of excitement waiting agitatedly in the wings of my throat.

We've been enjoying/lamenting yet another Indian summer: the kind of weather that makes any honest New Englander highly suspicious of things to come. Sinfully warm and delicious, but doing nothing to reduce the tick population or promote the upcoming ski season.

I took all the pictures off my computer yet still I get a startup disk full message almost every time I turn on my computer. Help.  Could it be iTunes?

Isla told me I was a magnificent butterfly one night, then she said I was elegant and pretty the next. What is she buttering me up for? 

This morning she rushed back to the door of her classroom to kiss me on my left cheek, forehead, right cheek, nose, chin and mouth.

After months of badgering from Isla about making our house look more like a home, I got our rug out of the attic, and my big comfy chair from my parents' house, picked another chair with a "free" sign on it off of someone's front yard, and did my best to make our living room look more like a living room and less like a ballroom. I'm liking it. So are the kids.

I've been contemplating going off my antidepressants because I don't like the numb way I feel upon waking up each morning. It's as if they might also be anti joy, anti hope, anti-sorrow, anti-feeling, anti-life. I used to be a morning person. Now, it seems, I am a morning ogre.

I'm reading To Kill a Mockingbird to Esther, which has started an interesting conversation regarding the meaning of the word "rape." I realized my first attempt at explaining missed the mark when she said, "But why would anyone do that if they were married?" Help.

I've been getting special assignments to write BabyCenter articles for Yahoo's Shine blog. Like this one, and this one. I'm supposed to be writing an article right now and this little diversion has been a perfect way to procrastinate. 

I'll be back.  Leaving you with some photos:

Monday, November 07, 2011

Notice of action

It's two minutes to midnight.

What the heck am I doing here?

My eyes are so heavy it feels as if they are filled with sand.

The moon was so bright tonight it lit the tin roof of our barn up like the ocean.

I have been feeling guilty for not telling any of you that Ian's petition has been approved on Halloween Day. Spooky. Ian and I had both given up on going back to the website to check the status after resigning ourselves to the five-month processing time that nearly flashed on the screen.

So, one month and two days after they received the petition for my alien spouse, they approved it. I have to wonder if my little call to the Senator's office may have sped things along, or brought Ian's file to the top of the pile. However it came about.....Hurr-f-ing-ay!

For some reason I'm not exactly jumping up and down, though. I still feel kind of beaten down. I guess because I know that while this means things are moving along, it is doubtful that they will move along on any sort of rapid, holiday schedule. This is the Department of Homeland Security, not

The approval notice said they have sent the petition to the Dept of State National Visa Center , which can take a minimum of 30 days of processing before contacting them to find out what next....

In the meantime, they "reserve the right to verify the information submitted, in this application, petition and or supporting documentation to ensure comformity with applicable laws, rules, regulations and other authorities. Methods for verifying information may include, but are not limited to, the review of public information and records, contact by correspondence, the internet, or telephone, and site inspections of businesses and residences." 

What are they looking for? "Derogatory information."

Poor Ian. Between that rigamarole and the required criminal background checks from any country he has resided in for longer than 6 months since he was 18, and the surgeon general physical, out of his own pocket,  and the interview and all the accompanying fees, I'm afraid my poor husband is getting depressed. I don't blame him. They are treating him like a rabid dog for not following rules he didn't know existed.

I suggested to him he might have better married nice little British Barbara What's her face, the first girl he ever kissed back in grade school,  and he wouldn't be in this mess. He agreed.

Too late now.

We're still going to England for Christmas and, perhaps by some miracle, might even bring him home with us. One can hope.

I'm tired of this and I'm going to bed.

Bon nuit.

Recent Momformation post over here.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Out car shopping


I wish I had some wild excuse for my bloggy absence. Wish I could tell you I've been working on my novel, or jetted off to some writer's conference or even have been on some sort of hedonistic child-free bender.

But no. No. I've been right here letting life kick my ass as usual.

Sorry to be so profane. But really, sometimes it feels that way, does it not.

It was Halloween that did me in. Halloween and the fact that I let the kids stay up too late three nights in a row somehow and this is the perfect recipe for disaster around here. By the time we got to Sunday morning, I was convinced Isla was sick. Turns out she was just tired. So we had one night, Sunday, of early bed time catch up then it was dreaded Halloween.

Isla could have been a Zombie without any costume, so colorless was she from gorging on candy as we walked from house to house, to house. Finally, after we had covered South, East, and North Streets and were heading down West Street, she said to me: "I think I'm done trick or treatin', Mom. I've got enough candy."

Say what? Is this my Isla ,my candy lover, my sweet toothed girl showing some sense of restraint and moderation in the face of sugar? It was. And she meant it.

We ended up at the Public library where she ate an apple, we met up with Esther, and she asked me to take her home.

Since then we've been late for school twice, I've packed pizza for lunch twice, and we've had Indian takeout once. Saag paneer is the only food that consistently gets eaten in silence around here. Isla never says a thing, no complaining. She simply eats it until her plate is clean. How something so mundane as  child eating curried spinach voraciously can be so profoundly beautiful I cannot explain, but it is.

I have no pictures of Halloween to offer you. They are still in my camera.

For the last two days my entire focus has been on one: figuring out when and for how long we will go to England. And, two: buying a new car. 

This second thing has been making me feel really tired and a little deflated  about the reality of making grownup choices when you are still a child at heart.

I tried a VW Passat, a nice used one, and as soon as I got behind the wheel, with that stick shift at my right hand, like old times, I became a 20-something again. I have forgotten how tight and zippy VWs are. How fun to drive. Warned away from that, I tried a Saab wagon, sigh, and a Toyota Matrix, both used with roughly 80,000 miles on them.

Talk about night and day. This is equivalent to having a date with the gorgeous singer of a rock band, a guy you can pretty much bet will cheat on you but Lord is he sexy and fun, then having another date, the same day, with the boring, well- brought -up, marriage material insurance agent your mother is trying to match you up with. You know the boring guy will be safer in the long run, a better investment, reliable, but God how you are attracted to the guy everyone warned you about.

I knew the writing was on the wall when I took the Matrix to my mechanic, trying to do the right thing, and told him how much more fun to drive the Saab was, and he said,

"There comes a time in your life when you have to make practical decisions and this car is practical. The Saab is not."

Booooorrrriiiinnnnng! I miss those days when I judged a car's worth merely by how good its sound system was.

I'm trading the Volvo, which still gives me a smooth ride but threatens, daily, to empty my wallet, in for the Matrix next week. The Matrix has excellent gas mileage, remarkable roominess for a small car, and , here's the clincher, it's supposed to be so low maintenance it is practically no maintenance.

"Your kids will inherit this car," said my mechanic.

If accepting the fact that driving pleasure isn't exactly a necessity means you've grown up and become responsible, consider me an adult now.

It will grow on me, right?