Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I love surprises

Nothing raises my ire more than others boxing my children in. I hear that G "WILL BE AN ARTIST." Yes, she drew pictures wombside. Yes, she feels called to score her world with permanent marker when the rest of the world sees a wall, or a sofa, or 3/4" cedar siding. Yes, she sleeps with her pictures and "Fifi" when other children sleep with blankets or stuffed animals. But, she might end up being a politician with an appreciation for the arts or a scientist with an understanding of the artistic nature of the nanoscopic world that advances our society's well-being to unheard of heights. Or, she might even be a waitress that enjoys daydreaming about weather patterns. Maybe, none of these at all. No matter what, she is a kid that likes to draw. Nothing more just yet. And, no need to shove her identity around in my playbook.

Little M on the other hand, has only recently succumbed to pen and paper. Really, only in the last 2-3 months tops and without fanfare. I would call him eccentric rather than artistic. Case in point: the picture above. Here, he is eating what he calls "alien brains" and made me take a photo to send to his pal A in Glasgow.

Recently, we were at the Enchanted Palace (http://www.hrp.org.uk/KensingtonPalace/stories/palacehighlights/EnchantedPalace.aspx) off the Kensington grounds in London. The kids found a guide who took us under her wing for an hour and showed us the grounds. She led them in a lullaby to Queen Victoria and then pulled down a journal in which they could leave the Queen a message. G dictated a note via me regarding the specialness of her "Fifi" and that Queen Victoria might find one like hers helpful when falling asleep. M drew a picture of the Queen as a girl playing with wolves in a winter forest...what? A picture? Of winter? In a forest? And wolves? And a young Queen? It was so thorough and surprising that even the guide broke character and called over her colleague to take a look- as proud and impressed as I was stunned and busy amending my childrens' identities in my heart. She found it inspiring enough to sing a wee bit of an operetta.

Wrong me. Humbled me. I shoved M in a little un-artistic box and was happy to leave him there. I did exactly what raises my ire. Thankfully, we are open to wide adventures as a family that will wake me up the next time I make such a terrible mistake. My deepest apologies Little M. Grant me patience and I just might surprise you, too.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

lesson number three hundred-n-some from the book of G

G's life has been busy and dictated mostly by others in the past few weeks. She has moved from the only home she remembers, took her elder brother to the ER for anaphylaxis in London, toured London, toured Portland, ate lunch in the car or on a bus or on a train or in a taxi because we have an anaphylactic family member and safe food is best found in a home made lunch while we are leaving Glasgow, touring London, touring Portland, or house hunting. She has also been housebound most mornings in a boring apartment in Portland because her younger brother is napping. Oh yes, almost forgot, she had her 4th birthday in amongst the chaos. -That's her eating at Yo Sushi! on her birthday in the picture above. It was her favorite place to eat in Glasgow.

In addition to her crazy schedule was her crazy introduction to Portland. Due to jetlag she fell asleep in the car en route to the temporary apartment where we are staying. She woke at 3 in the morning Portland-time and thought that America was the pits. It was dark, not her own bed when this was to be "home," and there would be no friends or school the next day. To her, it seemed that all we did in America was try to get her to sleep in a permanently dark world with us scowling and stumbling into strange apartment corners. Was America a place where you could only sleep? she wondered. She didn't believe that the sun just hadn't had a chance to shine. She wailed, "I want my nursery school! I want my friends! Where is my bed!? Where is my bed?" With 3 hours of patience, she happily discovered that daylight shone on this part of the globe too. Despite her schedule and worries, she has imparted another lesson. While talking about our cross-Atlantic move, she said, "I will not see my friend H in Portland, but I will always like her in Portland." Ah yes, G. How right you are about friends. I wonder what other little nugget of heart-smarts she has tucked up her sleeve...right up past that cute little elbow of hers...

Monday, June 13, 2011

No Venus

Today we went to the Tate Modern and what should I discover there but this sculpture! Michelangelo Pistoletto "Venus of the Rags." This sculpture embodies exactly how I feel in the middle of a move - mind you this is #6 in 2 1/2 years (read posts from a year and some ago for the affect of the economic downturn on rental properties in Glasgow). Also, keep in mind that tonight is the second night of drilling against the shared wall with a start-up at 9pm and we will most likely move our hotel room tomorrow. I want the moving pain to end but I think the UK has it in for me. The worst thing about moving is figuring out where to put clothes. The kids grow out of clothes and wear out clothes faster than I can pack, unpack, wash/dry, and find a reasonable spot to put them. I have found whole boxes between moves -forgotten and filled with clean and folded laundry that the kids could have used but have outgrown. I even gave up in the last house and just let the clothes multiply in their child-chosen, mold-growing corners. Even my writing of late feels jumbled and messy - rag-like, if you will. And then, there is G! She who wears everyone's clothes at some point during the day because that is a part of who she is - a random clothes wearer. The best part is that "Venus" was sculpted by day laborers in Italy and the rags were sourced and placed in the mound before her by people Michelangelo hired to create his vision. Even the artist did not sully his hands in creating this masterpiece declaring my inner pain. But I calmed myself as I thought that at least I had the added benefit of exercise with all of this moving and laundry and stuff. But no, apparently not even my post-partum-mid-move-#6 bum looks as good as Venus'. Little M even told me so when I said, "This is exactly how I feel!" and he said, "But you don't look like her..." Then again, maybe Little M was commenting on her vacantly peaceful expression on the other side of this sculpture. Peaceful about the whole affair? I am surely no Venus.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

loose screws

We are en route to Portland! Gasp and eeegads! Currently, I am writing on a desk that looks nice, but is so wiggly that with each keystroke, the table wobbles ever-so-slightly. It moves almost imperceptibly but enough to make me think that I was a) suffering dizzy spells due to a brain tumor or dehydration b) experiencing London's first earthquake or c) going crazy mad due to the after affects of upping sticks in a foreign country in less than one month. But no, none of the reasons for my motion sickness was due to any terrible imagining that my delightfully odd nature is prone to conjure. Just a desk with a few screws loose.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

not to burst your balloon, but...

I have many stories to tell you but they are lost in the tumble of saying goodbye yet again to another cluster of fabulous people that have bubbled up and into our lives. There really is just no way to leave gracefully. What's more, we are at that traveling stage where computers and photo storage and memory sticks are in transit or stored or inaccessible for the time being. In light of this, I have a wee story for you.

Earlier this year, as you know, I had pneumonia during the last month of TW's gestation. In the haze one night, M rented a movie. It seemed the perfect way to occupy the children while I broke a rib whilst coughing whilst gestating. A delightful French movie called the "Red Balloon." It is a story with few words about a boy and his friend which happens to be a red balloon. Really, a sweet movie. Quiet. Calming. M inserted the movie, placed the kids' favorite dinner in front of them, and left. Surely we would have some time to ourselves to worry. Shortly thereafter, Little M came in, "I don't like this movie." We shushed him back to his seat. G came stomping out of the living room, "Might I have some chocolate instead?" We denied her back to the room as well. Then, they kept coming. Incessantly. In turn or together. Moaning, whining, complaining. Whinging I think is the Scots word they use here. M and I were frustrated. There was no quiet to be had. Why couldn't our children be normal? Other children loved watching television til their brains oozed out on the floor. Why couldn't ours? They even have food! Even food they like! What was wrong?! "Go back and watch television!" We yelled. No amount of grumpy parenting would convince them to stay and enjoy, eat a little even... I rolled my wheezing, insomniac, heavily pregnant self out of bed and waddled into the living room to investigate my bored, annoying and perhaps even abnormal children. Apparently, there is also a French porn movie called the "Red Balloon." Thankfully. The movie was still at its "boring" talking parts where the porn stars are introducing their characters and the plot or whatever. Also, thankfully, my children don't speak French.