Friday, January 23

Bok, bok, Ani-Boo

IMG_7543 Untitled Untitled

While Kris was getting Ani ready for bed last night, he told me to watch.

“High five,” he said to her. She smacked his open palm.

“Aww! I wonder when she learned that!”

Walking down the sidewalk to church, Kris imitated a chicken. “Bok, bok, bok,” Ani repeated.

“Ani is so cute,” Zoe says. Yes, she is.

It’s cute when her brothers call “Ani-BOO” and she runs to them to give a hug.

Cash let her sit in his lap the other night (I had danced her around to a song and then set her down and she was SO MAD). But then he laid down she kept flopping onto him and they both thought this was funny until one of her flops landed on his face, knocking his teeth into his lip so hard that the lip busted open.

Cash cried and Kris loved on him and Ani came over to place a hand on Cash. We all knew she hadn’t done it on purpose but yo, it still hurts. I joked that Ani’s head was like a boulder.

“Ani’s head is like a bowling ball,” Cash decided. And all was well.

The Time of the Playpen is coming to an end. (As did the Time of the Bottle.) This is a triumph.

I’ve been telling Ani for months things like “stay in here” or “come back where I can see you” and “you can have free reign of the house when I can trust you.”

But I couldn’t trust her. To not pull the lamp off the end table if I left the living room. To not chew on the bricks of the fireplace. Don’t touch! Don’t lick! No, no, no!

When we got home with her, we borrowed the playpen Kris’ parents still had. (We’d given ours away, thinking we’d be adopting past the playpen stage.) Patsy bought one at a rummage sale. I got another one at a yard sale to replace the one we’d taken from Kris’ parents. So there was a playpen at home and at both grands.

And if Ani couldn’t have an adult’s undivided attention, she had to go in the playpen. (And as you can imagine, as one of FOUR, she can’t always have an adult’s undivided attention.)

In the Grand Scheme of things, time in a playpen is fine. But she spent her first 21 months confined to a crib, y’know? And we never put the boys in a playpen except to like nap. So, big dose of Mom Guilt about the playpen.

Lately, we’ve been using the playpen mostly as a storage device. A toy goes in the playpen for time out if Ani refuses to use her hands. We throw the big red yoga ball in there to get it out of the way. Ani herself hasn’t spent much time in it for weeks.

She’ll play with toys now. She’ll play with her siblings. She’ll snack. She’ll hang out with her parents just observing.

So I can tell the big three “I’m getting in the shower — will you watch Ani?” and they know it means, stop her if she tries to climb the stairs or touch the television.

Sometimes while getting ready for school, one of the twins will put Ani’s shoes and jacket on for her. Zoe is usually the first to be all ready and a few times, she has bounced Ani on the yoga ball while the boys finish up.

I don’t have words for awesome it is to see the way they all love their little sister.

Babies add a wonderful dimension to family life for older children. I am the oldest of 8 kids, and have rich memories of carrying younger siblings around, doing their hair, dressing them, and enjoying the feeling of being a competent older sibling, complete with all the adoration that the little ones showered on me. Yeah, they get into your stuff and cause extra work. But it’s pretty darned hard to be a cranky teenager when you’ve got a tiny sibling patting your face and unabashedly loving you. ... I think of the friendships I treasure with my own siblings now as an adult. Each of my siblings blesses me uniquely, and irreplaceably. I am thankful for their friendship and love and support, and I look forward to seeing those kinds of bonds grow among my children as they move into adulthood as well. In a big family you’re never alone in the world. And that’s something to celebrate!



Wednesday, January 21

Being Mortal

Forever ago, I read Atul Gawande’s “The Score” in the New Yorker. A few years later, I found “Letting Go — What should medicine do when it can’t save your life?” It was another fascinating (albeit more depressing) read.

Last year, I saw that he had a whole book coming out on this topic. A good way to get the side-eye from people is to answer “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” when they ask “whatcha reading?”

This book made me cry several times. (Newsflash: People die. It sucks.) I’m still glad I read it.

I am more thankful than ever for the ends that Jack and Juanita got. And have a better perspective on what kept GJ spry all those years.

Some of my favorite passages:

The simple view is that medicine exists to fight death and disease, and that is, of course, its most basic task. Death is the enemy. But the enemy has superior forces. Eventually, it wins. And in a war that you cannot win, you don’t want a general who fights to the point of total annihilation. You don’t want Custer. You want Robert E. Lee, someone who knows how to fight for territory that can be won and how to surrender it when it can’t, someone who understands that the damage is greatest if all you do is battle to the bitter end.

Our responsibility, in medicine, is to deal with human beings as they are. People die only once. They have no experience to draw on. They need doctors and nurses who are willing to have the hard discussions and say what they have seen, who will help people prepare for what is to come—and escape a warehoused oblivion that few really want.

Unlike your experiencing self—which is absorbed in the moment—your remembering self is attempting to recognize not only the peaks of joy and valleys of misery but also how the story works out as a whole. That is profoundly affected by how things ultimately turn out. Why would a football fan let a few flubbed minutes at the end of the game ruin three hours of bliss? Because a football game is a story. And in stories, endings matter.

That’s all we really want. A good, good end.

Tuesday, January 20

Here and there


It's a new calendar year; I have vacation days to take again! I took MLK day to be home with Kris and the kids. I know it was only a three-day weekend, but as Kris said last night "I'm ready to go back to work. Today was like five days long."

On Friday night, we picked up quarter-round for the stairs AND hit Taco Night. When we went to get the kids, Ani had discovered the joy of ice cream. Dad handed me his phone to show me a picture and I ended up scrolling through months worth of photos, emailing several to myself. And Zoe was like "hurry up" because she wanted to look at pix on GrandDad's phone.


Cindy Norris had invited Zoe to come spend the night on Sunday, offering to take her and Sophia and another friend skating on MLK day. When Zoe mentioned this at dinner last week and Ben realized he couldn't go, he immediately asked if Evan could come over. And then Cash asked about Vann.

I'd told them Evan & Vann could come spend the night over the holidays and then everybody got sick. So I messaged the moms to see if they were game for a Sunday night sleepover and they were.


I hadn't thought about exactly how structured our Sundays are until we had to figure out when to squeeze in grandparent time and whether Ani could skip a nap and when did Zoe need to be at the Norris'?

After church, we needed to kill a little time before dropping kids off, so went to gas up the van. And of course the kids ask if we can go through the car wash. Sure.

We left Ben, Cash and Ani with Kris' parents and took Zoe with us to Jack's. It's unusual but nice to get a random bit of time with just one of the kids. Then we dropped her with Cindy and decided to use our kid-free time watching two eps of The Fall instead of making a WalMart run.

Monday morning, Kris worked on the stairs and I did laundry. Ani wandered around watching us while all the boys either played computer games or watched cartoons. (Vann is a Scooby Doo man.)

No pressure. At all. Ever. Untitled Untitled

Just before lunch, we needed to make another trip to Lowe's, so we piled everybody into the truck and ran a friend-returning errand first.

Friend return

Making a book

I meant to crack open a new book while Ani napped, but as soon as I sat in the sun, I got sleepy. (This is what happens when you stay up too late Saturday night finishing The Darkest Part of the Forest and then again on Sunday night finishing The Fall.)

I managed to crash for a bit, but Kris not so much. In part to answer the door when Zoe returned. She was still wired at first, but the moment she sat still on the sun porch... zzzzzz...

Skated out Untitled Untitled

We roused everybody by four and took the whole family to WalMart. There are reasons we rarely do such. We let them pick out yogurts.

The menu for Monday night was supposed to be lasagna (which Zoe requests every so often even if she doesn't end up eating the actual thing. Maybe she just likes how it sounds? Or that we agree to make it cause she asks?) but that idea was predicated on us procuring gluten-free noodles over the weekend and then being able to assemble the dish Monday afternoon. Okay, new plan. I suggested Waffle House. Kris had to take a selfie to send to his Dirty 5:30s.


Ah, childhood. Skate days, sleepovers, chocolate waffles, riding in the floorboard, big bowls of ice cream. Where the worst part of your day is when someone won't pick you up or you have to take (another) bath (because you didn't get clean during the first one).

Friday, January 16



The weekly yoga class I have attended for years has closed down. Since it's too cold to walk in the mornings (for me — like, maybe not for you, Carol), I am getting zero exercise. Zoe showed me how they do squats in PE and I did them with her and was sore for days.

Kris suggested we peruse the channels on the Roku to see if there were any yoga ones. There are. We added one, and while I have yet to try any of the videos myself, Kris said the twins did.

Last night, while the boys were taking a bath, Zoe put on one of the yoga videos. (I know. Cartoons are like, so five minutes ago.) She mostly just watched and then tried any pose she liked the look of.

But when Ben ventured in in his pajamas, he was like "oh! Are we doing yoga?"

Then Cash was swayed as well and suddenly I'm watching a little yoga class take place.


When the class started, like seven years ago, I saw some “yoga pants” at Academy and got them. Like a fool, I have only been wearing these pants to... yoga.

Over Christmas break, one day I thought “I’m not leaving the house today, but I don’t want to put on pajamas after my shower...”

Yoga. Pants.

I’d like you all to know that yoga pants are wonderful and that I feel dumb to be a Card-Carrying Adult that couldn’t seem to figure out I could wear yoga pants whenever I damn well please.

(Except to work, of course.)

Thursday, January 15

My little French girl

For like, two years, every time I saw an Amelie gif set on Tumblr, I went "oh, I should really re-watch that." I own the DVD and everything. But I didn't get around to it until Christmas break, one evening while I was home sick and the fam was away. (Not like I finally found the wherewithal to actually pull out the DVD. It's on Netflix now.)

While Ani isn't talking yet, her repertoire of sounds has increased. One of her verbalizations reminds me of Lucien repeating Collignon:

So after my re-watch, when Ani makes this sound, I go "Collignon!" (Or maybe Brodoteu, which is also from the movie.)

The thing is, whenever I speak French to Ani, she gives me the "more" symbol with her hands. Which is very cute and very funny to me. My little Chinese girl who we hope will start speaking English to us and she likes French!

I wrack my brain for French phrases. "S'il vous plaƮt," I say. "Je suis Maman." (Which is hopefully somewhat close to "I'm Mommy.") She bangs her little fists together until I run out of things to say.

Things Ani likes:
Music (partial to Bastille, Fallulah and Lorde)
French phrases
Cheese sticks
Water in her strawed sippy cup
To flip through books

Things Ani does not like:
To be read to (slows down her page flipping too much)
To bet set down
Water in a regular cup

Wednesday, January 14

Carpet begone

Kris took the carpet off our stairs on Monday. It's been there since we bought the house (in 2008), but I don't know when it was put in place. It had reached the point where you'd clean it and then a couple days later, it was already gross again. (You mean a high traffic area in a house with six people gets gunky? Go figure.)

(Here's a pic by ETW that shows the stairs with carpet.)

The wood is in good shape, but the stairs are now very LOUD. (Kris' dad is gonna see if he can help with that.) They need quarter round. Not sure if we'll add a runner eventually.

The kids had a moment with the carpet before they left for school. I have Status Quo kids. Rocking of the boat they are not interested in. (They know I am saving to get a different van eventually and they aren't keen on that idea, either.)

But they were eager to run up from the basement as soon as we got home. I heard Cash telling Kris "I'm proud of you" as Ani and I came up. (Ani and I always bring up the rear these days as I let her walk herself and just hold her hand.)

I walked Ani downstairs this morning, her footed-pajama feet slipping a little on the uncovered stairs. When we entered the kitchen, Cash said "Ani-boo!" and she toddled over to him and threw her arms around him.

Before we went to put her clothes on, Zoe sat on the yoga ball and bounced her little sister.

It is SO REWARDING to see them interacting as siblings. Ani being more and more a part of the pack. (Gah, they are such a pack. Our evenings would be much quieter if the big three didn't want to play together ALL OF THE TIME.)

Another of Ani's nicknames is Boofay. "Miss Boofay!" Ben will call. (I think because Kris and I sometimes pronounce "buffet" as "boofay" for silliness.) Sometimes I sing this to her (except I never remember all the words):

Thursday, January 8

Fanmix for The 100

I hadn't made a mix since November; what I'm currently obsessed with is The 100. Post-apocalyptic hell worlds don't really lend themselves to my kind of fanmix. But the themes, man! Love. Sacrifice. Survival. Community. Let's see what I can do.

[Listen on 8tracks]

1. "Let Us Stay Young" by Lucas Nord & Urban Cone

Do not fall asleep tonight
This might be a night to remember
Do not fall asleep tonight
Please pretend I'm not a stranger
Don't waste the time

"She stopped being a kid the day you sent her down here to die."

The 100 are 100 young inmates, sent down from a space station to die to see if Earth is yet inhabitable. They are youthful — picking fights and sneaking off to have sex, etc. — but they have to grow up fast once on the ground.

Ah, fresh-faced youths. They only look this clean in the pilot ep.

2. "It's Up To You Now" by The Black Keys

Let you go so you could go...
Go to town
It's up to you now

"We can take care of ourselves. ... We are not prisoners anymore!"

Politics on the Ark, politics on the ground.

3. "Heavy In Your Arms" by Florence + The Machine

I'm so heavy, heavy
Heavy in your arms

And is it worth the wait
All this killing time?
Are you strong enough to stand
Protecting both your heart and mine?

"He won't let me die."

And of course one of the grounders falls in love with one of the 100.

4. "The Driver" by Bastille

What’s the gravity upon your face
So I’m the one who’s bleeding
Real men
Always thinkin’ with our fists
My turn to be the victim

"But you and me, we started something."
"It's nothing we can't stop."
"Are you sure? Because I'm not."

This one's for Finn and to lay out why would be SUPER SPOILERY. And don't you want to watch this show? Please?

5. "Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene" by Hozier

She's the angel of small death and the codeine scene
With her straw-blonde hair, her arms hard and lean

"I'm gonna help you, all right?"

This show is RIFE with badass characters, and one of them is Clarke. The scene where she does a mercy killing while singing a lullaby? Oh, man.

So say we all, Bellamy.

6. "Begging for Thread" by Banks

Stooped down and out, you got me begging for thread
To sew this hole up that you ripped in my head

"Take off your clothes."

And what a badass we have in Raven. LOVE HER. It's a self-destructive moment, but I think it speaks to her awesomeness that she can go up to the guy revered by the rest of the 100 and know without a doubt he'll take up her offer.

7. "Kangaroo" by Lost Lander

Well I learned it fast and I cut it clean
Turned like a cog in a vast machine
And I know those were the cards for me
Those were the cards for me

"We're criminals, right? So, let's be criminals."

Dude, Mount Weather is so terrible, I don't even want to tell you about it.

8. "Bravado" by Lorde

And turn the smile on
And the story's brand-new
But I can take it from here
I'll find my own bravado

"Those kids out there, they listen to you."

9. "In the End" by Snow Patrol

In the end, In the end
There's nothing more to life than love is there?
In the end, In the end
It's time for us to lose our weary minds

"If death has no cost, life has no worth. That's how we live."

Wow, does befriending the people of the Ark cause Lincoln a load of grief.

10. "Like Rain" by Boho Dancer

Tell them to save me now
That would surely make my day
Call me by my name, I'm your child, you brought me here

"I'm just trying to keep my people alive."

Oh yeah, have I not mentioned the grown-ups at all? My bad. All my favorite storylines take place on the ground. Which is where the adults end up eventually.

11. "Hey Brother" (cover) by Tessa Rose Jackson

Hey brother, do you still have faith in one another?
Hey sister, do you still believe in love, I wonder?
Oh, if the sky comes falling down for you,
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do.

"I won't let anything bad happen to you. I promise."

12. "Stars" by Youngblood Hawke

Hold on, hold on
The stars are bound to change
Hold on, hold on
Wait for another day

"Is this how the story of our people ends? Did we come all this way just to die tomorrow?"

Look, I just had to end somewhere hopeful, alright? It's midseason hiatus and things are looking bleak. But this is good sci-fi, guys! Would I lie to you? Nah.