Saturday, May 22, 2010

Babe Ruth's eating habits

TZ: (eating a roast beef sandwich before a baseball game) Do you know who the greatest baseball player ever was? Babe Ruth.
Me: Uh-huh.
TZ: Did you know that he ate eight hot dogs before every game?
Me: That's a lot of hot dogs.
TZ: Just think--if only he had eaten sandwiches instead of hot dogs, he could have been even better!

Mommy 1, Fast food industry 0

photo courtesy of

Friday, May 21, 2010

Seating chart

New characters:
Walker: the best reader, writer, and mathematician in TZ's first-grade class, by far--leagues ahead of the rest of them. He's tall for his age, too--and probably outweighs TZ by 10 pounds. But he's dragging around the social skills of a four-year-old, which means he's disruptive and loud.
Steven: a boy in TZ's class and on his baseball team--energetic, funny, good-hearted, and easily distracted.
Sally: a girl in TZ's class--totally cute, with a wonderful, charming smile--sparkling eyes, the works. She "loves" TZ and spends a lot of time chasing him around the playground, which he finds, predictably, "really annoying." He tries to stay as far away from her as he can. More on this in another post.

TZ's teacher, Mrs. H, re-arranges the seating arrangement in the classroom every once in a while. At one point, TZ was seated next to Walker for a couple of weeks, most likely because he's a "good" boy--quiet, focused, obedient--whom Walker would be unable to recruit in his classroom shenanigans. Again, W is not a bad kid, just really bored and still working on self-control and the concept of personal space. But combine this with TZ's um, still-developing assertiveness, and you have a miserable day in school for TZ.

Apparently, TZ endured a couple of weeks of W bonking him repeatedly on the head, poking him, wagging his own face in TZ's face and going, "WAAAAAGH! Hi, TZ! WAAAAGH!" Finally, Mrs. H asked me if TZ was okay sitting next to W. I didn't know, not having heard a word about it yet. When I asked him, TZ said no, he was not okay with it. It just hadn't occurred to him to ask for a change.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Teaching TZ to breathe

I've tried a few times in the past to get a hopped-up TZ to calm down by stopping and breathing. Sit still. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply, three big breaths. This hasn't worked even a little bit, because he has just ended up panting and/or giggling.

Inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh, I tried one more time a couple of weeks ago. TZ was all silly and wound up and not-listening, very close to being just plain old rude and disrespectful. So I took him into his room and had him breathe, unsuccessfully. Staring desperately out the window, I had a moment of clarity.

"Come here to the window."
"What?" Bouncy, giggly, squirmy.
"Look at this tree. Tell me everything you see."
"Okay. A trunk and some leaves. Are we done?"
"No. Now count the leaves on that twig right there."
"Umm... Twelve. No, thirteen. No... Twelve. Or maybe sixteen."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Miracle Garden

I have never considered myself to be a particularly nurturing person. Service-oriented, sure. Sympathetic, okay. But not nurturing. Until I had children, every living thing ever entrusted to my care ended up dead from neglect: an orchid, a goldfish named Herman, a spider plant--spider plants are practically impossible to kill, but I managed it.

Children are different. As babies, they cry like the dickens when they need something, and as 3- and 7-year-olds, they whine and complain. Actually I suppose any animal other than a fish would let me know if it wanted something (poor Herman).

It's really a plant thing. I know that plants "tell" their caretakers by wilting, or turning yellow or black, that present conditions are not to their liking. I just haven't ever been able to care very much.

So it was a minor miracle that last year I bought four tomato starts (one Amish Paste, two Sun Golds, one Black Krim) and raised them into tomato-producing plants. And another minor miracle that I began to covet the empty lot across the street for its abundant space and sunlight, and yet another one that I got up the nerve to ask the guy who manages it how he would feel about, say, an unexpected volunteer tomato among the clover. And yet another when he replied, grow whatever you want as long as its legal and noninvasive.

C, my co-consipirator and gardening guru (she's got her own huge veggie garden), started some stakeless tomato plants for me from seed. K, my pregnant Sith friend, lent me her weed-whacker, rototiller, and 50 (or was it 100?)-foot extension cord. I let TZ do some weed-whacking, and he went to town.

Once the weeds were whacked and the ground tilled, I realized that said ground was far less hospitable than I had imagined, so I invested in some soil and soil amender.

Then it became clear that the hill was too steep to hold all the new soil, so I dug a little terrace--which needed something to brace it, so I brought over some old bricks we had lying around. And I thought I may as well grow some sunflowers along the fence, and put a couple of tomatoes in containers in the sun on the hill.

And I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have a pumpkin or two growing here? And we should have some marigolds for the tomatoes. (The tomatoes look a little sad in the picture, but they're actually doing all right.)

And what started out as a vision for a couple of guerrilla tomato vines growing among the weeds has turned into a pretty big, rather messy (I like to think it's charming), very obvious Project.

Not exactly the picture I originally painted for the property manager. I'm hoping he'll still be okay with what it's become, and that the deer and bunny rabbits will allow the plants to make something for us to eat and share--both of which will be miracles of slightly greater magnitude than what we've had so far.

It looks a little like Man vs. Nature over there, like establishment vs. anarchy, especially with the marigolds and the bricks--one big stomp of a civilized footprint in the weedy wilderness. Kind of ironic, considering the whole endeavor was conceived as sort of covert and subversive political act--a way to re-value land whose owner sees its value only in real estate dollars, to knit ourselves a little closer into the Nature end of the food chain, and to reduce another kind of footprint.

I can't let go of the irony when I'm here writing in my house, but when I'm out there in the garden (it is a bona fide garden now), I fall completely under its spell (the garden's, that is). It is like magic--that from tiny seeds like the ones my friend planted weeks ago, and from dirt, and water, and sunlight, grow stems, leaves, flowers, and lovely, delicious fruit. To grow vegetables, or fruit, or flowers, or what have you, is to watch a miracle reveal itself. Miracles. Sunlight, air, water, soil, fruit--miracles all. Wish us luck.

Mother's Day

I spent Mother's Day weekend with my good friend C playing in a water polo tournament in Moraga, about an hour northeast of here. Four games for me on Saturday, which wiped me out and got me a good suntan, despite my super-duper sunscreen, and two games on Sunday. It's still pretty clear that I'm only a novice, but I'm getting better and smarter.

Both husbands cried uncle after Saturday, so for Mother's Day we brought our children with us while their dads had the day to themselves (to be fair, RT strained a muscle in his back on Saturday, making it impossible to pick up KO or even bend over, really).* With a minor bump or two, all the kids behaved like a dream, garnering us moms lots of compliments. They were such troopers--seven hours on a pool deck is a lot to ask, and they totally stepped up.

While I'm on the subject of Mothers' Day, I'm sending thanks into the universe to all the women who've been my mother: My actual mother, first and foremost--what a job she's had, and what a strong and beautiful soul she is! And then also to my mentors, my guides, and my friends, professional and personal, who have done a mother's job--who have showed me how to be a better person, and who have accepted and loved the imperfect person that I am.

*RT told me that he read in the newspaper about an online dating service that experienced a torrent of new sign-ups the day after Mother's Day last year--10x their usual volume, maybe more. Women disappointed with their husbands' display of appreciation? Women who think they'd better hurry up and get a mate if they want to be queen next Mother's Day? Apparently, the Day After Mother's Day is the second biggest day of new sign-ups after the Day After Valentine's Day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Waldorf Day

TZ spent Sunday night in the bathroom "upchucking" (new vocab courtesy of his 2nd grade friends), so Monday was a recovery day. I've been feeling a little disgruntled with the school system lately and fantasizing about sending the boys to the Waldorf school down the street, or homeschooling them, so we had a quasi-Waldorf-inspired-homeschool day: a little watercolor painting, a little gardening (domestic and renegade--relevant post to come soon), a little baking. TZ read the cookie recipe and did some measuring math (how many half cups in 2-1/2 cups of flour?), and we took a few cookies to school yesterday for his "real" teacher.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Guess What?

Chicken butt!

Guess what?
Chicken butt!

Guess what?
Chicken butt!

Guess what?
Chicken butt!

Guess what?
Chicken butt!

Etc. ad nauseum.