Dumpling Skins and the Rigor Mortis Game

Or, a day in the life.

I love how my life is just so random and unexpected.  I genuinely enjoy weirdness.  The other night I was making potstickers because I hadn’t made them in awhile.  If there’s one thing I can thank my parents for, it’s how to make dumpling sauce.  Soy sauce and rice vinegar, maybe some sesame oil and a leetle bit of sugar.  Rowan loves them–but only the skins.  Doesn’t want any fillings, just dumpling skins dipped in dumpling sauce.  And now Nova is doing it too, probably because she copies what her sister does.  So they methodically went through all the dumplings, squeezed out the fillings, and ate the skins until no more were left.  Crazy kids.

Afterwards, Rowan and I were play wrestling, like we often do.  I was hugging her and she was hitting me and struggling to get away.

“You’re dead,” she told me.


“So you have to let go of me now.”

“No,” I giggled, “I’m in rigor mortis now.  You can’t undo my hug, because I’m dead. Even in death, I hug you.”

“What?” she asked, “What’s rigor mortis?”

So I told her.  Half an hour later, I’m walking to the bathroom and walk by the bedroom, where Rowan is hugging Nova solidly without moving.  Nova was trying to get away, and I hear Rowan say, “Nova!  It’s the rigor mortis game.  You can’t get out of my hug. I’m dead.”

I wonder sometimes when the school is going to call me.

Later on, after we read stories and turned off the light, I cuddled them in the dark for awhile.  Rowan and I will have great conversations.  We were talking about humans and attractiveness.  How is something we distinguish among ourselves, and if an alien species came to earth, we’d all look kind of the same to them.  I told her that I’m not sure if I’ve ever met anyone I would really consider ugly.  We’re all sort of humanish.  Granted, there are markers for reproductive health, such as symmetry of the face and hip to waist ratio.  But usually what we consider “ugly” is just deviation from what we expect, and what we consider as “beauty” is an average.  There are disfigurements, such as burns or scars – but that mostly makes me sad because it is physical evidence of suffering.  It’s not ugliness.

“In any case,” I told her, “I have a hypothesis that the average human today is more attractive than an average human of 500 years ago.”

“What’s a hypothesis?” Rowan asked. “Is that like a theory?”

“A bit,” I said.  “It’s a baby theory.  I don’t have any data to support my conclusions.  If I did, then it would be a theory.”

“So why do you think humans are more beautiful now?” she asked.

“Because first, we eat better food and have better nutrition.  We eat better than medieval kings and queens did.  Second, we have better skin and have medicine for things like acne.  There aren’t a lot of people with things like smallpox scarring anymore.  And we have better teeth.  We brush our teeth and know more about dental hygiene.   So, we’re getting better looking, generally, as we get healthier.”

She finally got to sleep and I was thinking about Charlemagne.  He was supposed to be extremely tall, at 6 feet. I remember as a kid being really confused about that, because my dad was practically six feet, and he didn’t seem abnormally tall or anything.  What a difference 1,200 years makes.  If I went back in time, I would be giantess.

And then, despite all that, I dreamed about work.

Survivalcraft Horror


So my eldest daughter has gotten into Survivalcraft something fierce.  Super addicted.  Ah, I remember getting so into a videogame that all I wanted to do was play it for hours on end.  She’ll ask me to get her up at 5:30 am so she can play some before school.  That would all be fine, except for the fact that she has a younger sister who wants to do everything her sister does, but is not nearly as good at it.

This weekend I have come *this close* to banning the stupid game.  The tears, the crying.  And Nova isn’t like her sister…she doesn’t want to talk about what’s upsetting her, she doesn’t want hugs, she doesn’t want to be comforted.  She just wants to be alone and work through it herself.  In the game, she likes to build super deep holes and then can’t figure out how to get out.  Or she’ll go to the ocean and can’t figure out how to get back to land.  She’s only four, after all.

The nature of her personality is that she wants to keep working on the challenge.  But she doesn’t want help, she wants to do it herself.  Rationally, I am really proud of her perseverance–but I am spoiled in my quiet.  There usually isn’t a lot of crying in my house, so when it happens three times in a day, my patience wears thin.  Yes, I am blessed with good kids, I know I have it easy.

Thank goodness for Rowan who has more patience than I.  Rowan had offered to build her a house and a boat.  I think I might have to get something special for her for Christmas because she is really good at cheering Nova up.  And they’ll both be forced to take a break from it when they go to their dad’s house tomorrow. . . unless they convince him to download it too.

Rewriting the Script

My parents are coming in on Thursday. . . da da boom.  There was actually some question whether they were, my dad did something to his leg and is having trouble walking.  But as much as I tend to gripe about their visits, it’s a lot easier to do it this way than to haul our two children to their un-childproofed, toyless house in New England.  Not to mention the cost of four airline tickets these days.

So they will be here.  Thursday.  And we’ll see how it goes because there were a couple of cool events happening this weekend that I’d like to go to.  Is it rude to do stuff when you have visitors around?  I’d bring them along, but if Dad doesn’t want to be in the car. . .well, we’ll see.

My mom sounded drawn out.  I bet my Dad has been a real beast, especially as it’s been going on for a month.  And as much as I try to pride myself on personal growth and all, when they come, internally I heave a big *sigh*.  Here we go again.  This time, I want to rewrite the script.

Nope, they are not a lot of fun.  They’re not bad, just kind of a downer.  So yeah, I get why they like to visit–well, certainly why my Mom does.  After all, I do the cooking, instead of her.  I do the washing up.  But even more than that, I know I am lucky.  I have a great family.  I enjoy coming home to my family, to my kids.  Here there is light and laughter and love, and I can say that without being cheesy.  We play and tickle and hug each other.  It’s great.  And Mom and Dad–they are only human.  I get my Mom, at least on most levels.  I don’t get my Dad–except for the God part, I don’t really know what he is thinking.  He is always so stern, unsmiling.  I don’t really know how much he misses us, if he does at all, because he keeps the evidence of those feelings inside.

But regardless of what I think I know, what I can do is try to make my Mom’s life a little easier for a few days.  And I can make some great meals, so they won’t miss the restaurants too much.  And I can practice my listening and open-ended questions on them.  So that’s my plan.  I’m going to cut down the whining (though frankly Leif and I will probably be rolling our eyes at least once) and look at the bright side.  Because that is the person I choose to be.

Does Everyone Have to Get Older?

Yesterday we went over to my mother-in-law’s house and spent the night.  We’ve been wanting to spend some more time with her since my father-in-law passed away last fall.  Plus, it’s always good to get Nova used to sleeping somewhere else.

Leif was feeling a bit sad as with spring coming, the garden is going to be neglected with Don not around.  Plus, it’s his childhood home.  He has decades of memories, and his baby daughter may be bee-bopping around, but her grandpapa isn’t around to see her anymore.

Nova is getting better at sleeping through the night, but we forgot the pack ‘n play, partly because there’s a crib at the house.  But we found out that the crib can’t come out of the storage room without being disassembled, and in any case, a wheel broke off so it’s crooked.  Grandma found a pad, so we put it on the floor, but during the night I kept waking up afraid Nova was going to get up and walk out into the hallway.  That turned out to be a needless concern, but she did manage to find a loose cord and get her arm and neck wrapped up in it.  Yeah, not good.  That was the end of that and we brought her into bed.  And now I know why there’s a million warnings on any sort of cords–kids really can strangle themselves that easily.  Ugh.

My mother-in-law is holding her own, but she has sciata, so her legs have been bothering her.  I’m going to have to start looking for babysitters around here, I think.  And I called my parents (they’re due to visit later in the month) and they may have to cancel, as my dad strained some muscle in his back and his legs are now hurting him.  I guess we’ll just wait and see.

Oh, and yes, I started reading GTD.  Apparently I need to buy a labeler for all the file folders I will be labeling.  Exciting stuff, this.



These Happy Golden Days

I have to tell you, I’m feeling pretty grateful these days.   I wake up in the morning and go to work and feel happy for no reason.  I get home and see my family and feel happy for every reason.   Today, Nova got me up at 6:00, but she let me put her on the floor and wriggle around for quite awhile.  Enough to let me make a cup of tea and peruse a book catalog.

In a way, having a child is very much an act of selfishness.  There are plenty of people in the world, it is true.  And much of these earlier years will never be remembered by our children.  The other night, we put on Labyrinth and Rowan really enjoyed it–but did not remember ever seeing it before.  There was a spate of quite a few months when she was two or so when she wanted to see it over and over again.  And now at six, it is all but forgotten.  But for Leif and me, we still remember.  We remember her soft flyaway hair and her in her toddler shorts, throwing rocks in the stream.  We remember singing along to David Bowie and walks in the park.

And I look at Nova and feel so thankful.  She will never remember her soft belly with the puckered belly button, or her big pink tongue with the blue vein underneath.  I love to kiss her in the crook of her neck, for all those times later when I won’t be able to.  I am very aware that this is my last baby.  I may get grandkids at some point, but that is not a choice I get to make.  So I am enjoying, very much, these last baby days.  I am blessed, fortunate, and sometimes I wonder how I can pay it forward, for I feel very rich these days.

Wow, over already?

Friday was Rowan’s last day of school.  That went fast.  Seriously, we need to reform the school system, I can’t take 3 months of summer.  But I went to the hotdog picnic, and it was sweet how happy Rowan was to see me.  It’s still so easy to make her happy.  Boy, I’m going to miss that when she’s 15 and ashamed to be seen with me.  Her reading is coming along well, too.  We will have to practice that over the summer.

But now that Rowan is getting older, I find I have to yet censor even more what I say.  For example, I have to be very careful about any work talk around her.  She goes to school (and daycare) with the children of other people who work at the same place that I do.  And they talk now.   It’s weird, because I’ve always tried to be open and honest about most things with Rowan, but I don’t want work stuff getting back to people via other channels.

Nova is almost 5 months now, flipping, smiling, and occasionally laughing.  Sadly, she is still getting up at 5:30 am, kicking and smiling at least, but I could stand a little bit more sleep-in.  The ladies at daycare say she looks like Rowan–I think there is some similarity, but they won’t be twins.  She eats well, that’s for sure.  I love her chunky thighs–she’s very healthy, so that’s less to worry about.  She is not sleeping through the night yet.  I’m sure I could let her cry it out, but I’m not ready to do that yet.

Keep On Trying

I’ve been slipping back into some old patterns of anger.  Who would have thought that this is such a recurring theme for me?  The past couple of days I have been cleaning up the kitchen at night and I get so cranky.  It just sucks to cook and then clean up the same mess.  And last night, I tried a new recipe but Nova did not want to be put down.  So I’m eating right-handed (awkwardly) and I’m trying to scarf it down so I can bounce with her.  I couldn’t even get five minutes.  I was thinking idly, how many women in the past killed themselves when all they could see ahead of them was a lifetime of drudgery?  Because it’s hard, harder than it looks, to be the mother and wife of a household.  Oh, and my husband thinks he does so much (and to be gracious, he does do a lot), but however much he’s doing, I’m still doing more.

But when I am calmer, it is all understandable.  Nova had her 4-month shots yesterday and was cranky too.  She nursed for a solid hour at the end of the night, not because she was that hungry, she just wanted comfort.  And it’s hard to step back and realize-This is what I should be doing.  A clean house and making a nice supper, she doesn’t care.  She wants to be held, to be loved, to be wanted.  Nova and Rowan don’t care if all they get to eat is macaroni and cheese from a box or hotdogs and biscuits.  It’s me who cares.

I think in a way, Leif has a point.  He doesn’t have all these shoulds running around in his head.  Here I am, with a running tally of what needs to be done,
catboxes, dishes,
laundry, lunches,
supper, pumping,
flossing, brushing,

and he is immune.  Because to him it is a spiritual endeavor to be the best father he can be, by being there.  To give his kids what he lacked.  And his simplistic view, I have to admit, is the right one.

It’s my shame I’m carrying around.  Growing up in a cluttered and disorganized home, I never felt it.  And we always ate so well, even if the kitchen was a mess.  It was years later when Leif got to see the home I grew up, that I saw us as others must have.  We’re driving in, and I see the piles of black garbage bags filled with leaves all over the back yard, and the cruddy clothesline, and I realize we were trashy.  My parents didn’t smoke and drink beer and watch television all day, but I thought it was normal to retreat into books and just let the house fall apart around us.

So here I am, trying to be a clean, organized person, teach myself new tricks, afraid someone will figure out that I’m trashy.  Oh sure, I read a lot.  But what do I do?  And it is that I’m trying to fight against.  But part of me misses my slovenly ways, misses doing nothing, misses reading my vampire novels, misses the rich fantasy life I used to live in.  Me?  I have to be me?  If I don’t have time for makeup anymore and I’m not supposed to wear my contacts (much), can I still be beautiful if I’m plain?

At least I don’t wear sweatpants.

And look at what I DID do last night:
I made Chinese curried chicken from scratch
I nursed Nova for over an hour
I read to Rowan
I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner
I baked brioche with thawed dough in the refrigerator
I made cold brewed coffee for the next morning
I made a marinade for chicken wings (Rowan is really into chicken wings)
I pumped and got Nova’s milk ready
I got Rowan’s clothes ready
I cleaned the catboxes
I did my nightly pushups

Okay, so I did do a lot.  I should be proud, not crabby.  Tonight-chocolate ice cream and Firefly.