Sunday, January 27, 2008


A sign that I need to go lock the medicine cabinet.

Sylvia, walking toward the bathroom, rubbing her belly in anticipation:

"Hmmm, I sure am HUNGRY for some TOOTHPASTE!"

A sign that I need to stop blogging and go do some parenting.

Eleanor, in her "listen-to-me-I'm-the-teacher" voice:

"Sylvia, watch closely because this is what you'll do in a minute when you're in the laundry basket."

[THUNK THUNK CRASH as the plastic laundry basket goes bumpity bumping down the stairs].

A sign that truly, I have married the right man for me.

Eli, seeing me paint the girls' fingernails, wants to have his fingernails painted, too.

"Want pink," he declares.

Tobin gently picks him up, rummages through the shoe-box of nail polish, and finally selects the brightest, sparkliest pink.

Tobin's eyes dance as he exclaims:

"Oh boy, Eli! This pink'll knock your socks off!"

Monday, January 21, 2008


I have a vivid memory of pumping my legs furiously on the swing, my best first-grade pal Kathryn keeping pace beside me, the crackling, almost-visible energy around our little bodies building to a crescendo as we sing at the top of our voices, "Oh the sun'll come OOOOUT, TOMORROW, bet your bottom dollar that TOMORROOOOOOOOOW, there'll be sun..."

Since then, I've often thought about that cheesy song on the eve of big events. More than once, I tossed about in bed, thinking that after tomorrow, my life would never be the same. I'd bury my Mama. I'd be married. I'd graduate from law school. I'd have a son. (Eli was the only child with a scheduled delivery date; the girls kept me guessing).

I've never, ever stared at the ceiling, wishing for sleep, wondering what it will feel like to recover from a double mastectomy. I've never marked a night with the simultaneous thought of everything I stood to gain, yet everything I'd have to lose, with the removal of my breasts. But Susan has. Tomorrow is her day; the day she has fought for months to bring about; enduring round after round of brutal chemotherapy in order to make the cancer operable. Tomorrow is the day after which nothing will ever be the same. For the better, and the worse.

So this time, Susan, I'm singing for you. I'm in that swing again, pumping my legs as hard as I can, pointing my toes, willing my legs to grow so I can touch the limbs of the nearby tree. The sun will come out. I can already see it as it peaks through the branches.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ode to Sunshine

Yesterday, Diana, Sunday School Coordinator, asked the kids, "What have you been praying for lately?"

One four-year-old hand shot up, and answered in a squeaky but earnest voice: "Sunshine." Beyond the laughter, I swear I heard a collective "Aaaaaaaa-MEN!" rise up to the heavens from the soggy streets of the unchurched Emerald City.

Then, behold: the sun did shine.

After lunch, Tobin took Sylvia on a two hour walk around the neighborhood. Not a Forward March with a purpose, mind you, but rather the kind of meandering stroll wherein it takes an hour to travel eight blocks because one must stop to examine, touch, and smell so many treasures on the way. They stopped to visit with a man drumming wildly on the sidewalk, working bongos and a sliding bell contraption simultaneously. He regaled them with tales--generously embellished--of his travels throughout the world. He asked if Tobin could spare a "Donation to the Arts." He thanked Tobin and told him that he really should visit the good french bakery conveniently situated behind him. Then he disappeared just as the jolly baker materialized--wiping his hands on his apron--as the rolls, pastries, and goodies beckoned behind him, leaving Tobin to wonder whether he'd fallen prey to an elaborately choreographed Pastry Set-Up. Sylvia ate her first-ever eclair, focusing on the chocolate icing and vanilla custard; neglecting the pastry as any four-year-old should.

Later, we took our film canister rockets to the park, and (fueling them with Alka Seltzer and water) launched them into the sky. Eli discovered an abandoned dump truck. Sylvia came upon a large patch of mud. After a short period of intense examination Sylvia pronounced it as "Very Good Mud." She and Eli worked together to transport the Very Good Mud, load by load, into the sandpit, in a scheme that involved sticks, digging, mud-splashed pants, a wee bit of mud tasting, and two very happy children.

Later, on a walk in the dark, Tobin explained to me the evolution of the sun. If this were a novel, I would call this chapter: Talk Nerdy To Me. He outlined how the sun is fueled by the something-or-other of hydrogen plus helium, and how eventually, however many million years from now, the hydrogen will run out, and the sun will be left with just helium, and it will go psh psh psh and blow up like a giant, hot balloon. Don't even think about livin' on Earth when that happens. Word, people! Bust open the freezer, invite the neighbors over, and have yourself a good old fashioned Hurricane Party, 'cuz there aint no reason to hold onto that frozen roast anymore! Later, after the sun runs out of helium, it will start working through-- using whatever word is the opposite of that something-or-other above-- oh yes, this is Fision, the one above is Fusion--all of the elements of the Periodic Table, until it finally gets to lead. At that point, the sun will shrink to the size of a tiny leaden bullet, and with a metallic plunk, will fall from the sky into a shiny silver milk bucket. Tobin didn't actually say that last part, but that's how I imagine it going down.

When we got home, Tobin took the kids back outside, for the night was clear and there were stars to be seen. With star-chart in hand, he pointed into the sky, excitedly directing the kids' attention to each constellation, calling them into being with the power of his Papa-hood. As I wiped off the dining room table, I glanced out the window to see Tobin and the kids sharing their galactic discoveries with a 70-something neighbor who was out walking her dog.

Oh, the things one can see, do, and discover on a day filled with sun!

Sadly, even as I write this--periodically gazing out the rain-streaked window into my swampy backyard and my half-rotten, leaky, rain-abused garage--I look upon yesterday as one reminiscing a vacation spent many years ago, in a beautiful village in Mexico with a name long forgotten. Maybe I actually went there, but maybe it was only a character in a novel I once read. I can't be sure.

Just now, hearing our cat Atticus meow mournfully from the back porch, Eleanor declared in her most pitiful voice, "Mama, I know what he wants. He wants to get out of the rain. He wants the sun to come back."

Better say your prayers, kitty.
If you have a minute, stop by my other blog at Living Lightly & Deeply, where my friend and co-blogger Kathy has posted her New Year's Resolutions.