10 September 2012

Fashion, friends, and food poisoning

1) So Mimi is nine and starting fourth grade and she doesn't give a crap about her clothes. By which I mean she has certain items of clothing she likes, and some she doesn't, but she has no sense of whether things match or if she is wearing two different socks or whatever. I admire this about her but also, I'm worried that she's getting to the age where people start to notice this stuff. I clearly remember getting teased in fourth grade because I was the same way and this one time I had on pants that were totally too short. Some girl laughed because I was wearing "floods" and I didn't even know what that MEANT. 

So I guess I'm debating whether and how to bring this up with her. 
I know she'll get teased eventually because most of us do, and I don't want to make her self-conscious when she isn't, but I don't really want her to get teased if it's something I can help with. 

2) I'm now friends with my ex-husband on facebook. It seemed kind of silly to keep sending him pictures that I'd already posted and since we do things together with the girls so often, and for the most part get along, it just seemed pointless not to be. Of course this means I will have to be more careful about filtering posts but I should do that anyway.

3) I got food poisoning of some sort last week. I know this because I ended up at the doc on Friday after some, uh, slightly worrying symptoms. I was feeling a little better and had a table at Bookfest yesterday, which went really well, but I also ate a sandwich for lunch while I was there and apparently that was a mistake because last night I had massive nausea and ick again. 

Also due to being ill I wasn't as prepared for Bookfest as I would have liked and nearly sold out. But the good thing is that gives me a great idea of what will go over well when I do Liberty Local at the end of October. I need to get crocheting. The Oods in particular were a big hit. Also the tiny cell phone charms. 

04 September 2012

Summer's end

Tomorrow is the first day of school, so Saturday was zoo day. The girls have been asking to go all summer so we finally arranged it -- we being their dad and me. Yes, I spent all day at the zoo with my ex-husband and our children. And it actually wasn't bad. We get along well, relatively speaking, and doing an outing like this is a lot easier now than when we were married and I was trying to make everything go perfectly all the time because I knew it wasn't perfect at all. 

So then today as a last hurrah I took the girls out for ice cream for breakfast. My friend Magda had the original idea and brought her two boys, and my sister brought her two boys. We went to the neighborhood ice cream/doughnut/dairy shop, and for 20 or 30 minutes the three adults were inside while all the kids were outside. They were directly outside the window where we sat, but for people walking their dogs or babies, it looked rather like vagabond children decided to wander down for ice cream at 9:30 in the morning. 

Tonight we went to my sister's new place for dinner with her and the boys, and Boo had an ear of corn, two spoonfuls of taco meat, and two pieces of apple pie. She wanted more pie but I refused on the grounds that I actually wanted her to sleep tonight. Mimi had a spoonful of taco meat, three sweet potato fries, and half a bag of Funyons. Obviously today was not a day for worrying about what they were putting in their mouths. 

Kids are fast asleep with clothes laid out and lunches packed (I'm organized at least one day of the year) and I'm contemplating tomorrow. I traditionally take a vacation day on the first day of school, and tomorrow is no exception. Nominally it's because I like to drop the girls off for their first day of the year and pick them up at the end of the day, whch is true. Also, however, there's all that time in between that I am COMPLETELY BY MYSELF. Granted, tomorrow I need to finish an article and do laundry and deal with the disaster that is my house, but I can do it without children following me around telling me they are bored and asking what there is to eat.        
In other news, I have a table this Sunday at the Kerrytown BookFest, which I highly recommend for anyone who likes books, geeky stuff, crafts, etc. I'll have crocheted amigurumi keychains, backpack clips, fascinators, toys, and whatever else I get done. My friend Kate will have also her magnets, prints, and notebooks for sale, and is participating in a panel about the history of Coney Islands in Detroit. So that's cool. You should come. 

Photosets later, on tumblr, and a post about the whole swimming thing.

30 August 2012

Another pointless list post -- now with gifs!

(reposted from Jen Unexpected)
It’s 9:50 pm on a Wednesday night. I’m sitting in a Denny’s with a Coke and a plate that held apple pie 10 minutes ago listening to the elderly couple behind me bicker good-naturedly about whether or not their pancake puppies contain white chocolate chips. I left my house so that I could write this article about the current state of same-sex marriage in this country without distractions. Hah.
Instead I am scrolling through my tumblr dash looking for paralympics gifs and posts, flipping over to Ctwitter every four minutes, and coming up with stuff I want to do instead of what I am doing about every seconds. 
What I NEED to be doing:

Things I want to do instead of write this article, in no particular order, for my own reference next time I am sitting around wasting time on the internet and should be doing something freaking productive already:

  • Make a post compiling the best tweets of the past week or two from my twitter stream, because my twitter friends are hella funny. 
  • Similarly compile and post the hysterical things my children have said lately, because they are also very very funny. 
  • Work on the landing page for my new website. 
  • Make some new CABD posts. 
  • Work on any of the photobooks for the past several years that I am half-assedly trying to put together before my Picaboo groupon expires (I’ve got like four more months, but still).
  • Fume about the RNC, the GOP, and the blatant use of transparent falsehoods in the presidential campaign.
  • Watch the Paralympics opening ceremony
  • Go home and settle in to crochet some more geeky amigurumi to sell at Kerrytown Bookfest on September 9. 
  • Sleep. 
This will be me tomorrow at work:

09 July 2012

Diving in

When last we spoke I went on at some length about this whole swimming thing. Since I've failed to post anything here between now and then -- although I have been busy elsewhere -- I thought it was time for an update.

We haven't started formal swimming lessons yet. Already by the end of May the classes that worked with our schedules were full for the first summer sessions. We're looking at end of July. In the meantime, we've been to various pools around town a few times, and things are going, well, swimmingly.

Mimi started out clinging to me or our friend Kate, whose apartment complex pool we've visited a couple of times. It's a perfect pool for the kids -- not busy, not huge, and the deepest point is five feet. And gradually, with the realization that she was not in fact drowning  -- and the fact that she was being shown up by her five-year-old sister, who splashes around in her floaty yelling "look at me! I'm in the deep end! I can do it by myself!" -- Mimi has lost much of her fear.

There was a lot of this the first time we went, over Memorial Day weekend. And I'll admit I spent a lot of time sitting on the side of the pool "getting used to it," as I told the girls, myself. Eventually Mimi got in and let Kate tow her across the pool and back, and proclaimed that it wasn't so bad. 
We went back this past Saturday. The girls were impressed that I hopped right in -- well, the water wasn't nearly as cold this time, and it was about a hundred degrees, so that does make a difference -- and they both got in readily. Mimi did spend the first five minutes or so clinging to my neck. Then she let me disentangle her and take her by the hands to tow her around. I gradually let go of her hands and before she knew it she was floating all on her own. Well, with the floaty, but that's a minor point. 

I practiced too -- I managed to float on my back all the way across the pool, and do a modified doggy paddle back. I even put my head underwater for a few seconds, because watching Mimi be brave made me feel a little ridiculous about freaking out for getting water up my nose. I didn't enjoy it, but I did it.

And then, almost before I knew it:
Yup. That's my girl who a month ago was terrified of water, happily ducking her head under. She did it about fourteen more times, and once she did it, Boo had to try it too. Boo wasn't as enthusiastic about it, but she wasn't squeamish, either. They paddled around underwater, poking each other and coming up spluttering, for a good twenty minutes.

So Mimi is now Boss of the Pool, and has happily declared that when she takes swimming lessons it will be awesome because she ALREADY KNOWS HOW TO PUT HER HEAD UNDER and maybe she'll even be a swimming racer someday! (We watched some of the Olympic trials.) 

25 May 2012

Just keep swimming

I made a deal with Mimi last night. If she will take swim classes this summer, I will too.

Here's the thing: I do not like the water. I mean, I like water, in general. I like taking long hot baths. I like looking at lakes. I like sitting by the pool. I don't really like being IN the water so much. Because I never learned to swim.

It wasn't totally for lack of trying. My mom took me when I was little -- I was a goldfish, or a tadpole, or something. And then when I was in maybe 5th or 6th grade, my mom signed me up for swim lessons at the local high school pool, and the swim teacher was this absolutely terrifying man who taught 6th grade at my elementary school, and I just remember him yelling at me because I didn't want to do something called the "dead man's float." (Which seems sensible, because why would I WANT to do something called that?) I didn't like it. I tried to get out of it. I told lies to the instructor, that my mom would let me sit it out if I paid her back for the money spend on the lesson. No one believed me, of course. I was terrified.

I made it through that course and even the required dead man's float test, but I don't know that I voluntarily ever got in a swimming pool again. Then in high school we had to take swimming as one of our P.E. requirements. That sucked, too. My class was divided into people who knew how to swim and people who didn't; the kids who did went down to the deep end and worked with the gym teacher on jumping off the diving board and learning new stroked. The kids who didn't? We stood around in the shallow end holding kickboards, feeling idiotic.

And after that, I never HAD to get in a pool again, until the summer Mimi was three and I was pregnant and I decided it would be a brilliant idea to take her to toddler swim lessons. I spent those standing the shallow end with her clinging to me like a baby monkey, refusing to let the instructor pry her legs from around my waist long enough to teach her to kick. Since a year earlier she'd screamed when we tried to put her in two inches of water in the bathtub, I actually considered this progress. We did a beach vacation that year too, up near Traverse City, and I think that was the last time either of us were at an actual beach.

Then I broke my foot (yes, at seven months pregnant) and Mimi's dad finished out the swim class with her. And I think that's the last time Mimi and a pool had any formal interaction. Boo was born in September; I had massive PPD and was back at work in six weeks and my marriage was dying and I was dealing with a newborn and a three-and-a-half year old who was having SERIOUS adjustment issues to having a baby sister, and a 13-year-old stepson who, ditto times two. Extracurricular activities rather fell by the wayside for a bit.

A year and a half later we moved to a house less than ten minutes walk from a community pool, and talked enthusiastically about how we'd spend the summer teaching the girls to swim etc. But the marriage was in its death throes and the soon-to-be-ex lost his job, and things really weren't going well at all. And after that, somehow, we just never got around to hitting the pool.

Last summer, at the new house, the girls set up their kiddie pool and the sprinkler in the backyard and were happy with that, although Boo mentioned learning to swim a couple of times. I didn't want to discourage her, but I also didn't really want to be the one to take her. And Mimi didn't want anything to do with the idea. Near the end of the August last year we accompanied friends to a local water park, and I realized how much of my trepidation I'd unwittingly passed on to Mimi when she backed out of the "Lazy River" tubing ride, which was something even I enjoyed. And she wouldn't go in the water without me, while Boo would have dived in and not looked back, despite her lack of actual swimming ability.

I put off thinking about this for most of the fall and winter, and now suddenly spring has morphed into summer as it tends to do in Michigan, and people are buying pool passes and talking about beach trips and making summer plans, and I realized I have to do something about this. So last night I brought up the idea of doing swimming lessons.

Mimi immediately buried her head under a pillow, as she does when she doesn't want to talk about something.


We talked about why not -- this is what therapy has done for this kid, she DOES eventually take her head out from under the pillow, with some encouragement, and use her words -- and she said she was scared. And that she was worried about going under the water. And that she would sink. So I told her that I was scared of the water too, and that I wished I had learned to swim. That I didn't want her and her sister to be afraid of the water like I was, and that it was really smart to learn to swim because then you can go in pools and lakes and boats without being scared. That it makes you safer -- she interrupted, at this point, that "then you can just swim to the shore if you're in a boat and it sinks, instead of waiting for someone to come rescue you," which, HI MISSION ACCOMPLISHED as far as indoctrinating the "learn to rescue yourself" lesson -- and she said that yes, she does want to learn to swim, but she's still scared.

So I said, "A lot of times bravery is being scared but doing something anyway." And we talked about examples of that. Learning to ride a bike. Taking a shower by herself (this was a recent accomplishment, and a Very Big Deal). Playing on the soccer team. I told Mimi she is the bravest person I know, who has done the scariest thing of anyone I have ever met, and she looked at me like I had no idea what I was talking about.

"Mimi, you got on an airplane with two people you had just met, who you were still a little scared of, and came to a different country where the language was different and the food was different and the people even looked different, and you let us be your family and take care of you."

She started to laugh. "But I was a BABY! I didn't know any better!"

And that made me laugh, too, but I pointed out that made it even braver, because we couldn't even explain to her what was going on, that she was two years old and that she could have decided not to love us but she did. She started to cry, and I started to cry, and she said, "Well, at least these are the kind of happy tears. It's not really SOBBING. That's when you're like ah, ah, ah, and your face is ALL WET." Heh.

So THEN we calmed down, and she said she was still scared of swimming, and suddenly this was about a lot more than heading down to the pool, so before I even thought about it, I said, "look, if you will learn to swim this summer, so will I." And her jaw totally dropped open, and I thought, oh, SHIT. And she hugged me, and told me SHE was proud of ME and that I was the bravest person she knows.

So, it looks like I'm learning to swim.