Christmas is a warm time of the year. I mean that literally - the fire in our furnace is always stoked high, the candles are lit, the kitchen is full of pots and pans and the oven's set to 400. The living room is crowded with people in their Christmas sweaters, sweating, praying that Matthew doesn't go back down to the basement to toss in another log (and if he does, please let it be some of that halfway rotten walnut but please oh please, not the red elm.) The south door is opened to let gushes of winter wind hiss in, and yet it feels like we're not in a barely-insulated farmhouse in the Midwest but sweltering in Qaddafi's tent. In Libya, not Central Park. And through the windows we see a pale pink sky over top white fields, blue shadows cutting across it in the distance where the trees stand tall. We see it and wonder at the fact that such cold can exist alongside such heat. Just a thin pane of glass between us, separating us from that bone-chilling cold. And as we fill our bellies and put our feet up on boxes waiting to be peeled out of their festive paper, that Christmas hush falls. We suddenly notice that the radio's been on, and we hear the words that are so familiar we often fail to notice them. But tonight we do: Long lay the world, in sin and error pining, 'til He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope! The weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, oh hear the angels' voices... And my throat feels tight and dry. And my breath catches in my chest, eases out in a low murmur that took too much thought. And I remember that He came. He came to this frozen, dark place. He came to melt our cold hearts. And the dissonance is jarring - God Almighty, here? The light of the world existing alongside such darkness? And it makes no sense at all, and for that, for that I thank Him. I bow my head and let the tears sting in my eyes. And Matthew notices it's getting late and heads down the old lopsided stairs, and the DJ makes some sort of Christmas joke and the next song starts to play. And it's over. Fleeting and gone; a momentary glimpse of something eternal.
I never got the idea behind Rorschach tests. First of all, I think they all look like splatters on a windshield. Or Georgia O'Keefe paintings. Or the guy from Gnarls Barkley*. But recently I read an article about ... you know what? I don't even remember anymore. But it was one of those explosive current events that causes everyone to be angry and take sides. And the article said that it was a true Rorschach test of our time, because all it did was cause people to solidify the opinions they already had. It added nothing to their thoughts, it only polarized. Everyone used it as an example to prove their wildly-opposite points. So then I finally got it, a Rorschach test takes something nebulous and causes you to have a gut reaction which in turn reveals something about you. Or at the very least, it causes you to blurt something out which shows a glimpse of who you are. . All this to say, I asked Flaco a question the other day which proved to be a bit of a Rorschach test. He was sitting in the cart. I was pushing him through Walmart. We were making conversation (puddles, bonbons, politics, otters) and it occured to me to ask Lucas what we should give Matthew for Christmas. And he said immediately, without a pause, without thinking, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world "A kiss from a puppy." . I don't know about yours, but my report reads as follows: participant displays high levels of sweetness, charm, and ingenuity; may lack in gift-giving abilities. . *You've sen this right?
except perhaps that this is the wild-eyed expression that my boy makes (accompanied by a loud howl of a scream) when he has unveiled a new delight for the masses. So here it is (drumroll? drumroll?): my son likes to crump. How do I know this, you wonder? (Aside from the obvious, of him appearing in the kitchen, crumping wildly while I cook supper?) I will tell you how: before he starts to dance, he holds up his skinny arms and proclaims (eyes closed, chin pointed high) "I LOVE TO CRUMP!" Often he requests "Jealous" by Lou Reed, a song choice which I don't think particularly suits his moves, but then again, I have nothing to do with any of this. So maybe you're thinking now, is it Matthew? Is he the one teaching the Flaco to crump?* Nope, it's Troy and Abed! (Hit the link, yes?) So we saw this clip about two months ago and thought nothing of it. I mean, other than that it's funny. But then a month went by, and suddenly Flaco struts into the kitchen - struts, I tell you! Like a rooster! - and makes his proclamation and breaks into dance. Like Billy Elliot, if Billy Elliot were a white/latin boy imitating a Palestinian guy imitating a black guy. What can I call it but a moment of sheer beauty. . *If you read that and the very picture of Matthew crumping made you laugh, you should stop by our house sometime, around 6:30. We get down.
Last night Flaco went to bed in his regular way - Matthew played the guitar and sang for him (a lot of Pedro the Lion lately if you're curious), prayed with him, and then tucked him in. Actually not in that order at all, but that's all right. As usual, Flaco dismissed Matthew eventually, told him it was okay for him to go downstairs, and so he did. Settled in for the end of GI Joe with Roger. About ten minutes later we heard weeping and gnashing of teeth. I went upstairs to see what was the matter, and there was my boy in his Superman pajamas, tears flooding his eyes. I held him for a bit and asked if he wanted to pray again. He did. He knew just who he wanted to pray for, so we prayed and prayed. (He has a way of always knowing who is on my heart. I don't know how. I talk in whispers at night to Matthew, and yet he knows, he always knows.) He asked me to tell him a story, so I whispered to him the story of creation (as translated for me by my friend Najla.) "Estas hablando en arabe, mamita?" he asked. "Si, mijo" I said. "Hmm. Shukran, mamita. Shukran!*" . Then he joined in, whispering in the night "In the beginning, the world was empty, there was nothing but darkness everywhere. But God said 'let there be light,' and there was..." And I stayed and stayed and thanked God for my little son's half hour of insomnia, for the chance to be still and quiet, for the chance to take care of my son, for the chance to bow before my God, for the chance to remember again, again, his power over the dark. . *Shukran is thank you in Arabic! He knows three of the sentences of the creation story in Arabic too, which is pretty sweet. More than pretty sweet. Sweet as overly-honeyed headache-inducing baklava, if you ask me. He can also ask "Hey, would anyone like some coffee?" in a Jersey accent. In English. Not a Jersey accent in Arabic, although who knows? Maybe someday.
The state of California recently found it fitting to send two of its finest to Wisconsin on a peace-keeping mission in light of their incessant "California cows are happier" campaign. Pictured is junior delegate A. Dickson, using his intellectual prowess to awe a local resident, L. Goodman. After building a "dropping bomb simulator," Dickson went on to make a bottle of lime cinnamon rootbeer. Goodman was overheard saying "Alex is so[ooooo] cool." Senior delegate J. Dickson was spotted talking and laughing with several area locals, who later reported that the cold war shows early signs of thawing. . Despite their achievements, Gov. Schwarzenegger ultimately pronounced their mission a failure, given that A. Dickson now wants to move to Wisconsin to raise cattle.
I was driving past the park today and spotted two porta-potties lying on their sides at the edge of a hill. I saw these and of course thought of Cornerstone '96, the hottest, grimiest week of my life, which culminated in hundreds of strangers having a huge mud fight and eventually sliding down a mud-soaked hill on the ripped-off door of a Johnny-On-The-Spot (which, thank goodness, seemed as gross to me at the time as it does now.) I love how memories that you didn't know were memories flare up unexpectedly. Which brings me, of course, to my Flaco. He is significantly more like an elephant than a goldfish. We drove to Menards the other day, and as we waited in the car for Matt to come out, he said "There is a giant black cat inside mamita!" (which he had seen about two months ago - an inflatable Halloween decoration.) I said "Do you know what color its eyes were?" (Just to see, just to see.) And he tells me "They're purple!" Which they are. Were. And the fact that he remembers things now makes taking him places and doing things with him even more wonderful. He remembers seeing a baby pig at George McFall's house back in June; he remembers riding an elephant with Abu in July. He remembers seeing his Uncle Brian at Christmas last year (when he was only 14 months old!) And of course he remembers more than that, but these are some of the ones he's been talking about lately. He even has some memories absolutely unaccounted for -- he saw a man at the shop the other day with white hair and puffy bags under his eyes, and he looks at him and says "Mamita, look, it's Clinton!" This Flaco this Flaco -- I'm so glad he's mine.
The first year we celebrated Fyo's birthday (a few days after we got him), we dressed up in costumes and watched a werewolf movie. The next year, we held him a party in Waukesha, attended by his four grandparents, which made a grand total of seven people in costumes. (Fyo was dressed as Doctor Octopus!) In Appleton, he dressed as a pilot (goggles and a scarf) and threw a marvelous party - Lucas was only a few weeks old! I'm so glad Fyo hosted the party himself instead of asking me to do it. Whew. Last year, he and Flaco dressed as space men and went trick-or-treating together. Which brings us to the present -- Fyo, Lucas, and Loli all dressed as tigers (poor Fyo did not have a very good costume, comparatively) and got candy and then we went to my parents' house and had a birthday feast! Barbecued pork! Mashed potatoes! Sicilian vegetables! Pumpkin pie with cream! Fyo says that he plans to be a pharaoh next year, and that Lucas and Loli have already agreed to be his mummies. So here is your invitation a year early -- would you like to attend his birthday dinner?
Flaco asked me over and over for a fideo crudo the other day. I thought he wanted to eat it, so I kept sending him away and telling him to wait until the noodles were cooked. He has odd requests, let me tell you, so I didn't think much of it. Raw onion and soup for breakfast? Oh sure. But his insistence on this one was a little surprising. I finally gave him a dry noodle and sent him on his way, when I was met by a resounding silence - a sure sign of mischief. So I left the kitchen and went looking for him, and there he was, standing on his tiptoes, using the noodle like a bobby pin, trying to jig open a locked door. He looked over his shoulder at me and curled his lips up over his teeth, trying to hide a smile, and asked (with what almost seemed like sincerity) "No te gustan mis travesuras, mamita?" Claro que me gustan, mijo, me encantan! I said, caught up in a moment of blind love and stupidity. . The shoe full of hot cocoa the next day should have come as no surprise.
Every meal I make has a name. I'm not the one who does this, either. It's like making a nickname for yourself -- at best it doesn't stick, at worst you are openly mocked. No no, a nickname must be given to you. Similarly, I cannot name my dinners I serve. If I did, believe me you, this meal would not have been named "Leftovers from Guantanamo Bay." It would have been named something nice like "Tuesday's 'I Tried So Hard But It Didn't Quite Come Out What a Crazy Fluke I'm Normally Such An Awesome Cook' Special." Matthew felt that if he looked like an alien it might help him swallow. . It didn't.
Chochos is the word for people who would drive three hours each way to spend one afternoon with their grandbabies (for a better understanding of the word, please view Beeba's face as she holds Flaco, or Abuelo's expression as he gives Loli her bottle.) Engreída is the word for a daughter-in-law* who sits idly by while her in-laws do her dishes. And make her supper. And somehow still find a way to compliment her homemaking skills! . Niko niko is a word lacking in both English and Spanish, so I'll borrow a bit from Japanese. It's the sound of a smile, which is the sound one hears every time I think of the family I somehow managed to inherit. . *Full disclosure: I am said daughter-in-law. Bet you didn't see that one coming. I admit this to my shame but to their credit. And while I'm at it, I might as well also add that they also bring me stacks of Time, bring me pineapples, bring me doughnuts that they've carefully coated in pink frosting and coconut, and perhaps most importantly come with all sorts of banter that makes their visits much too few and far between.
You're probably thinking I already saw this picture! But nope, you just saw another one almost exactly like it. So maybe it's redundant, but I think it's worth seeing that this wide-eyed wide-opened smile is what Loli looks like. That's just her. And I thank God for my girl; three months old today, but I've known her for almost a year. Ever since she was a tiny baby the size of a lentil, she has made my heart sing.
It is awfully Big Brotherish, I suppose, but I kind of like that search engines keep track of what you type and tailor your ads to you. Mostly I think it's interesting to see who they think you are. (Or rather, how off they are in their assumptions.) For example, the other day, I got a series of ads trying to sell me proper Islamic swimwear. It looked kind of exactly what you would picture: head covered, throat covered... basically everything covered but toes and fingertips. All the models lined up on the beach with their hands on their hips, the caption below saying that this was the new "form flattering" model available. I was thinking about this the other day when Matt asked me if my friend who wears a hijab "has her ears pierced under there." I was silent for a minute trying to remember her unveiled, and in the dark his voice suddenly added "Oh no, does that make me a pervert?" And we laughed and of course I told him I couldn't believe he could be so crass and inappropriate, wildly inappropriate. After sufficiently shaming him, I brought up a rather sensitive topic: our daughter's modesty, or lack thereof. Loli has a habit of lifting her dress. It's terrible, just terrible. She shows her bloomer any chance she can get. When we told her "Loli, you can't lift up your dress, you're a lady!" she merely responded "lady." (Seriously. Twice!) Which I suppose leaves us only one option: I am now in the market for a baby burqa*. Google, find me that. . *I am kidding, oh so kidding.
I wouldn't normally use a blurry picture, but then again, Matt's not normally sporting a mustache, so perhaps this is all for the best. What was meant as a short-lived joke has turned into quite an inspiration for Flaco, though, who touches his face and says he wants to grow whiskers of his own. He claims he would look more handsome if he were not sin bigote. (Kids these days and their ideas of fashion, I tell ya...)
he fell asleep eating his peanut butter sandwich. He's not the kind of kid who does that, not the kind to fall over into a plate of mashed potatoes. He's our boy, after all, and us Goodfellas could never eat apathetically. The sickness next struck Matthew, who threw up all night. Next it came for me. And I ain't gonna lie, what Flaco did almost made it worth it. My boy went outside and picked me a bouquet of dandelions -- the white kind, puffed with seeds. He brought them to me and laid his head on my chest and said "It's okay, sugar. It's okay." . It take it back. It was worth it. Sometimes I love him so much my heart actually hurts.
Last night we had a slumber party with the Flaco. We turned out the lights and he started talking talking talking talking como nunca. Actually, that's not quite true. There would be long silences during which time we'd assume he was asleep, and then suddenly from the dark we'd hear his tiny little voice. "Pillow fight the air! Feroz pillow fight!" Silence. "I'm marvelous, papa!" Silence. "I love you, birthday cake!" Silence. "No te vayas, papa. Quedate aqui, papa. Peligroso!" Long silence. ("I think he's asleep." "It's been two hours!" "He's gotta be by now.") "El chorizo huele riquisimo!*" . *It should be noted thatthere was no chorizo cooking. And that to Flaco, chorizo isn't even food (we call it salchicha.) As far as he knows, it's a guy dressed as a sausage wearing a sombrero running down the street. Which leads me to believe that said guy dressed as a chorizo must have been wearing a very good smelling cologne.
Things I love love love: Sitting on the couch with my kiddos, Loli smiling at me and Flaco climbing like a rabid little monkey. Discovering I have all the ingredients for curry. Not putting coconut milk in said curry. Watching The Office with Matthew. Talking smack about the show Mercy. Getting a year-long subscription to Time (plus a laser level!) for only fifteen bucks. Hearing Flaco say "Jesus loves me, people tell me so." (His version of the song.) Getting to cook dinner for six every day. (Although when my grandpa and grandma were here and there were eight of us, that was so good too.) Watching Hairo Torres dance/contort. Hearing Styxx on the radio. Catching glimpses of Cupcake. Hearing Joe teach at youth group and realizing how much I don't know and how much more I want to know. Watching cartoons in Arabic with Flaco. . And more, so much more. Much more. . You are one. I'm almost sure of it.
We took Loli to get her ears pierced yesterday. Dreadfully late if you're latin (they pierce them right after birth), dreadfully early if you're a WASP. Since she's both, we figured what the heck, let's let her be dreadful on both accounts. (Oh, a terrible use of the phrase. My Loli could never be dreadful.) So here I have this blue-eyed daughter now, with her little rubies in. And next to me, this blond-haired boy, climbing on me now, saying "Me das papitas por favor?" Translating it for me into English, talking with an accent. . Let's be honest here. I'm not that latin. Had bad Spanish until my grandma moved in. I once even ate gravy on my rice. And somehow I ended up with these kids -- or at least this boy -- whose favorite singer is Olga Tañon, who asks night and day for arroz con frejoles, who, when overwhelmed, looks up at the sky and says (of course in Spanish) "Oh Holy Father." He is like a tiny little boy version of my grandma Lola. And it makes me wonder, if Matt and I do move away and Loli ends up growing up elsewhere, will I have a latin son and a white daughter? As Lucas would say (wide-eyed, sucking in air between his teeth, shaking his head in slight disdain) "Pero vean eso."
Lucas often says to me "Ya me voy, mamita." I say "Where are you going, Flaco?" and his most common response (other than "a Arabia Saudita!") is "a Washington!" I typed that incorrectly, in fact. When he says "a Washington" it sounds like it has at least three exclamation points after it. You can imagine his delight, then, when his auntie Megan appeared at his doorstep. Just like some kind of a fairy godmother, baking homemade bread and making bruschetta, taking him to the zoo, helping him pick blackberries... Loli was of course quite taken with her auntie as well. I think if she had a pair of red glittery shoes, she would click her little heels and go visit her auntie M forthright.
The first time Lucas came up with a sentence all on his own (as in, not something that I taught him to say*, but something that he pieced together all by himself) we were driving in the car with a high noon sun shining down on us. He looks up at the sky and says to me "Mamita, donde esta la luna?" (Where is the moon?) I of course explained about the moon's rotation around the earth and the reflection of the sun onto it and etc. etc.** but mostly kept driving, kind of baffled that my son, my little boy, was having a conversation with me. Since then it has been interesting to see what else he has to say. For example, he likes to tell me that his Grandpa Dan is "soooo cute." He tells me when I have dirty fingernails. When he woke up this morning, the first thing he said was (in his groggy little voice) "Mamita, besa mis pies, por favor!" (Kiss my feet, please!) When we went to the zoo he saw the potbelly pig, and he ran up to it and said "Mamita! Vamos a comer chanchito!" And then, in case anyone misunderstood, he said in his more limited English "Eatit!" Earlier that day, we stood under the apple tree and he saw a bunch of rotten apples on the ground. Brown and mushy. He looks at them and says to me "Mamita, la manzana hizo caquitas!" And then he runs to his auntie Megan and says "Apple pooped***!" My favorite, though, is when he says to Loli "No llores, hermosura" which roughly translated means "Don't cry, beautifulness." . He is too much for me. . *Because of course I've taught him all kinds of ridiculous things, such as (Me:) Who is the president of Russia? (Flaco:) Medvedev! (Me:) And who is his puppet master? (Flaco:) Putin! **Kidding. ***I am actually embarrassed just typing that word. Go figure.
Last night my teeth/gums/jaw/face/head were throbbing (I need a few root canals I think) as I laid there trying to decide whether or not to wake up Matt (again) and ruing the fact that Loli was for once having a beautifully long stretch of sleep and yet I was all contorted in pain at 2 am (you see? This sentence doesn't even make sense. I don't even know what I'm saying.) I will start again. My teeth hurt. A lot. And at around 2 am Matt told me to take some Excedrin pm and I said Wait. Hold on. Let me start again. My teeth hurt. Very much. And I got up with Loli at around 3 am and she started smiling at me and somehow it didn't hurt anymore. It didn't. And she laughed. A real belly laugh that Matt could hear from the other room. We spent an hour together, giving each other secret smiles and yes my Excedrin also kicked in, that's a big part of it, and yes Matthew rubbed my head until his hands almost fell off but I will tell you that smile of hers is like none other.
We found it strange that Lucas, upon seeing the cover of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, kept pointing to the undead portrait of Eliza and saying "Mapache!" At first I thought he thought we looked alike. I was not too flattered. After a few days, however, Matt noticed that Lucas was also pointing to the bottle of Black Lemonade and saying Mapache. Then we realized (as maybe you have already?) that to him the dark around the eyes of the raccoon cookie jar look like empty eye sockets, so he thinks that skulls are raccoons, which of course means that Ms. Pride and Prejudice herself, with her exposed jaw, is also a raccoon. All of this makes me wonder: does he think that Matt is calling me a zombie as a term of endearment?
A few weeks before Loli was born, Matthew stole a car. Really. Just up and stole a car. He is quick to point out that it wasn't just him, it was also his mother in law, but the cops didn't see it that way. He was the one who took it. He was the one who drove off without leaving a trace. . A few days before Loli was born, Matthew got busted. Got called into the police station. Poor babygirl was almost born with her daddy in the big house, commemorating her birth not with a cigar but with a cigarette stub off the slammer floor. . (Should I explain now?) It goes like this: A friend of my dad's moved to Mexico, and asked him to pick up his car. Said the keys would be in it and the battery would be dead. Told him the make and model, year and color. Matt went and found said car just where he was told it would be, fished around and found the keys, jumped the battery, and drove off. The car spent a few weeks at the shop, during which time my dad was told to scrap the car for parts. My dad was about to tear out the engine when the cops called. A tow truck had hauled away the headed-to-Mexico guy's car and they somehow had my dad as a contact -- would he like to come get it? A chill ran up his spine, I can only imagine. If they had his car, whose was the one in the lot? As it turns out, it just so happened that some other guy had the same exact car, parked in the same place, keys tucked away and battery dead and all. I'm not too sure of the details after this, but I do know that Matt was called in by the heat and, thank God, not fingerprinted and no record formally made of the event. Well, other than the enormous THUGL1FE 4EVA tattoo Matthew inked across his chest.
So the other day the Flaco says to me "Papa!" I say to him "No Flaco, that's not a potato. That's a communist*." I was befuddled as to how he could make such a grave error, given that normally he is sharp as a whip. So he says to me "Papa!" again. "No Flaco" I say. "Papa!" he says, more urgently. "No Flaco, no es una papa" I say**. Exasperated with me, he finally says "Pope!" At which moment of course I realized he was not saying la papa but el papa - John Paul II to be exact - who, in the poster hanging above my grandma's bed, does bear a striking resemblance to the undecorated communist face. Thank goodness he translates for me.
... *Follow the links if this makes no sense. Which I'm sure it doesn't! **He did once confuse a guinea pig with a potato, but that is neither here nor there.
No idea. My girl is here. When she was born and they handed her to me I could only hold her and say "My daughter, my daughter!" And Matt's eyes glowed. They glowed. I have never seen him like that. Some things are too precious to say, must be kept hidden and tucked away and wondered about in the quiet. So that is how I end.
The painting is finished and framed and hung. The dishes are done. The cushions on the couch are straightened. Lorraine has had her breakfast. This should mean that I am in the hospital and that babygirl is soon to arrive, but would you go figure?, we have been postponed! There was no room in the inn. So this gives me a moment instead to whisper something, something I wasn't going to tell. . When Lucas was born, or rather, in the hours before he was born, I was not doing well at all. I was just laying there limp and shaking, sometimes not sure where I was. And then the most marvelous thing happened. I heard whispers, so many whispers, all around me. Rustling sounds too. I felt this enormous sense of calm and peace and relief from pain, and I opened up my teary eyes and there was only Matt, sitting by my side. And I knew the room had been filled with angels, or still was, and that God in his mercy had let me know it. I knew He was taking care of me and my son, and that we would be okay. . The other day I got so afraid, and Lucas looked at me and said "Angeles, cuentame." (Angels, tell me.) I told him the story of the day he was born (which I'd never done before) and when I finished, he said "Otra vez" (again.) So I did. I told it to him again and again until I finally started paying attention to what I was saying. And I was overwhelmed by His grace again. You would think this would be enough, but then again last night I got afraid, and Lucas from his little highchair said "Mamita, angeles." I said, "Okay, I'll tell you the story." So I did. And I finished and he looked at me and he simply said "Que bello." . How beautiful.
God has blessed me enormously. You are probably assuming I speak of my giant belly. A valid assumption that is, but I speak of sleep. Flaco had been waking up around six in the morning (or rather, I was lucky if he made it to six!) and I would drag my sorry self out of bed all crumpled and tired feeling. And now, suddenly, in these last weeks when I'm so very tired and waking up all night long, he has taken to sleeping until 9:30. Nine thirty! And he has taken to napping for two or three hours during the day! Which means that I get to drag my sorry self into bed all crumpled and tired and lay there happy as a clam. Oh yes, I am like a clam. The fact that I'm sleeping again also means that I'm dreaming again. Most recently I dreamed that Matthew was Vladimir Putin's puppy. Not half-puppy half-himself but completely himself and completely a puppy (and also a bit mongoose. Twitchy and long-tailed and adoptive of mongoose poses.) Putin was in exile in Siberia, and he spent his days carving wooden statues in Matthew's likeness, until one fateful day when the CIA, in a plot to undermine the Russians, tried to steal him. Matt, that is. It was an American girl disguised as a jogger, but the plan was thwarted by a kindly Russian hobo who, up until then, was suspected to be a spy. Or a scarecrow. You see, you see? It is an enormous blessing to sleep.
that Matthew and I tied the knot. I was in my poofy poofy white dress with the pearls, and he was jaunty as could be in his suit. I remember "Here Comes the Bride" starting and the doors opening (or rather, almost opening) but I said "No no no! Not yet!" because I was weeping too much. It was not delicate bridely tears but full out wailing, with gasps and wheezes and those thin high-pitched noises that seep out between agonizingly long sobs. I'm saying I sounded like an Iranian funeral. Little did I know Matt had been doing the same all through the beginning of the ceremony. We are both at a bit of a loss to explain why. The music repeated and repeated and my dad showed me his dyed-blue thumb to make me laugh (which it did) and he took advantage of the moment to swing those doors open and start heading me up the aisle. I noticed then that I had no bouquet - I had somehow lost it! - so I grabbed the toss-bouquet which had been placed in a vase by the programs and headed up the aisle. I remember I was very stoic, oh so stoic. A tiny smile, little nods at people as I headed up the aisle. Poor Abby on the organ had already played through the song several times, and hung on to the last chord for the length of the aisle. Very dramatic. Added nicely to the Iranian funeral vibe. I saw Matthew with his wet eyes and that's when I felt like I could breathe. From there on out I got the giggles and apparently chatted through the wedding from what I can tell on the video, always whispering to Matt, my long veil fluttering. I remember I almost couldn't say my vows because I started laughing too hard. No idea at what. No idea. At the end, Matthew flung me over his shoulder and ran me down the aisle, white toulle like sea foam, splashing up everywhere. We got to the back and we looked at each other and we said "We're married!" And that was that. Six years ago yesterday.
it is a million times easier to write about nothing than it is to write about something. When it's nothing you can just ramble and follow stray tangents and who cares? If I could, I would summarize our Father's Day celebration in some glorious prose. However, it was just that wonderful that the task has proved much too daunting. Instead, here is a picture of Matt and Flaco just after the party ended. For those of you who were there: wasn't it the best ever?
Sometimes I pretend I've gone into labor, and I say "OHHHHH a contraction!" all doubled over, or I say "OHHHHH my water broke!" or "OHHHHH rush me to the hospital!" and then I do jazz hands, which is our signal that I'm crying wolf and not to be believed. (It was Matt who said we needed a signal. What a clever husband I have.) So I was sorely tempted to write about the birth of the twins (pictured right) in such a way that would cause everyone to think I had had my baby and that there was not one but two. However, it proved difficult to do jazz hands in a post, so here is the truth instead: Our sweet Lorraine had her kitties! We got to see them when they were only a few hours old, all tucked away nicely in the cat house my suegro made. She even lets us pick them up, much to my surprise! In this picture I think they were two or three hours old (and since Matt is leaning forward, it does no justice to their size. They are tiny, I mean tiny.) So yes, congratulations Lorraine. I look forward to the playdates our little ones will have!
And surely you know what that means. Matthew sent me twelve drummers drumming! Tomorrow come the pipers piping! Or at least this is the way I think it should be. Yes yes. The last handful of days is so very exciting, never knowing when she might come, knowing that it's soon. . Soon soon soon is all I wanted to say I think. She will be here soon. I sit every night in her room, rocking in the rocking chair, praying for her and thinking secret thoughts while Matthew sings for Flaco. When Matt's done, sometimes he tiptoes in and we pick out one of her pajamas or dresses and we set it in various places saying, "Oh look! ____ is lying on her rug!" or "Oh my! Now she's in her bouncy chair!" It's crazy because of course I remember how much it hurts, but all I can do is look forward to those first contractions starting. Soon I will wrap my arms around her and kiss her little face. Soon soon soon*. . *Unless of course she doesn't come soon, and waits an extra two weeks. That would mean I have an entire month left, which I shudder to think of. I shudder! Of course, that would give her a little bit more time to grow a nice head of hair... But no no no! Let her wear a wig!
A) A cake manifested itself! . B) He baked a cake while blindfolded, and yet it turned out beautifully! . C) His suegra baked him a homemade apple cake in honor of his graduation! And his suegro threw him a party at Steve's Pizza! And soon his educator's license will come! And that can only mean one thing -- something that he has desired as eagerly as he is shown desiring the cake -- that he is done done done done done done done done done! . The correct answer is B. . Just kidding. It's C! Congratulations Matthew! Oh, congratulations!!!
Here we are pictured in the car, en route to Milwaukee again, because I am an awful liar who piles deceit upon deceit. We went again to Mona's Turkish Shawerma House Cafe (this time with my parents!) and had a lovely supper. Fortunately, Lucas stopped shrieking "Buddha lies!" before entering and we had him settled into a little booster seat where he ate like a perfect gentleman, until this couple walked in. A hipster couple, girl with tattoo sleeves down to her elbows and Lucas looks at her, and his mouth drops open, and he proclaims (as never before) "Niña, I love you! I love you, niña!" When she paid him no mind, he started to wave his little arms, trying to catch her eye. Smiling at her his toothiest, most charming smile (not unlike the one pictured here, only of course his eyes were wide open, beseeching, pleading.) How she turned away is beyond me, entirely beyond me. I would've at the least bought him a zalabia.* . *(Or bought one for myself and then eaten it thinking how cute he was. Yes, that's more like it.)
That last thing I wrote was an utter lie. In said writing, I declared that it was our last hurrah before babygirl is born. Not so! As it turns out, we went to Milwaukee again this weekend to get more cars, and we partied like it was 1994. Oh, did we ever. Our bossman not only gave us a hotel to stay overnight, but he also gave us money to eat out! So we went to an Ethiopian restaurant where we ate out of a tall basket with no plates or silverware! And then we walked a little and ended up at Mona's Turkish Shawerma House Cafe where we had A Thousand Layers for dessert (pronounced azaozandleyers which made it extra delicious.) Before coming home, we went to Seven Mile and brought home a souvenir for Flaco and a souvenir for babygirl -- Matt picked out two baby chicks for Flaco and I picked out a pink and orange poncho for our girlie. I must say, Flaco was very pleased with his present, while girlie was a little underwhelmed. Maybe I should have brought her home a goat.
I won't be able to travel, so last weekend Matt decided we would have a last hurrah. Oh, and did we hurrah! We went to Milwaukee with my parents to pick up cars for the shop and ate at Abu's Jerusalem of the Gold. We stayed in a hotel and swam in a pool and ate waffles for breakfast! (Flaco took one last swim in the bathtub before we left, and his little foot slipped and he went under. I pulled him out and he sputtered and cried and said "Susto! Noe!" which means "Scary! Noah!" Matthew said "Oh Boo! You're right, you were like Noah. Or maybe Jonah" and Flaco said "Jonas, no pez" ... "Jonah, no fish.") . From Milwaukee we went to Madison, where we ate at Famous Dave's thanks to a gift-card from my sister and Fernando! We bought babygirl a present on State Street, where Flaco created quite a scene with his high-pitched announcement that he loves Obama. I tried to minimize the scene by explaining that he also loves Bush, Putin, and Medvedev, but then he had to go and start saying "Buddha Buddha" (he had pointed at a statue, so Matt told him what it was) which drew even more shrieks of "That's so cool" and admiration that we would teach our son to recognize "such important people." Obviously this could not be easily smoothed by saying "He also knows who Jesus is" so we just paid and ducked out quick, very embarrassed. In the car, Matt taught him to say "Buddha lies" as penance. . From there, we went to the zoo, where Flaco got to see (among other things) a porcupine and a tiger. Then he played in the lake and chased geese. Next was a party at Ginger's for Megan and Jason, where there was amazing food and delicious dish full of double entendres. Hehe. . The next day (I continue!) Matt went for a four mile run and I played with the Flaco before church (a very wonderful sermon out of Judges.) Then we (I say we! Ha!) built a chicken coop (which is not quite finished yet but darn close) and cleaned our house and rearranged our upstairs in preparation for babygirl's arrival. Then we went to a grad party, ate lunch and went with my parents boating on the Mississippi! Fortunately, Flaco's bathtub scare wasn't permanent, and he tried his hardest to fling himself overboard. When we got back, we went to another grad party, where the host (my dad's cousin) let Lucas pet a newborn pig! We talked politics, which is always fun, and then came home. . ...Only to get up the next day to finish working on the coop, hang up a hammock, begin babygirl's painting, have a cookout, make hot fudge (or rather, watch while my dad made hot fudge), and whisper until the wee hours of the night how tired and happy and tired and happy we were. . I just thought to myself, why did I type all that out? A little late for such a question. There it is. It was so very nice.
It appears that quite literally the Flaco wants to fill his grandpas' and daddy's shoes. Also my flip flops. . In a more metaphorical sense, he has started imitating people in new ways. He drinks the milk out of his cereal bowl. He says chuzo! (which is the equivalent of aw shoot.) He commends Fyo when he does tricks. He cackles when something is funny (although I'm quite sure he doesn't know why.) He runs around naked in the creek. . (Oh wait. That's just him.)
Flaco's grandparents came to visit him, he got so excited that he fell over. Like a cartoon, landing hard on his bottom with his little feet in the air. A look of shock on his face, ducks circling around his head. Sometimes when we get in the car, he says "Vamos, Appleton!" and I have to break it to him that no, we're just headed to WalMart or some other lesser destination. His lip quivers. . There's this story about how one time Matthew made a t-shirt for his grandpa, and he wrote on the front of it "GRANDPA!" with an exclamation point. His grandpa said "Why did he write it like that?" because apparently it was a little sloppy and not obvious that it was punctuation. Matt said "Because that's the way I'm going to say his name next time I see him. Grandpa!" I hear exclamation points every time Flaco talks about his Abuelo and Beeba. Dozens. Italics too. Maybe even asterisks with little notes below that say* *Iyuvyou Iyuvyou Iyuvyou Iyuvyou.