Thursday, November 29, 2007


So last night the Bunny got very upset while watching the Grinch (or really one of the commercials for Santa Claus is Coming to Town). We asked her what was up and she burst into tears and said she'd doe something really super naughty and she wanted to tell us about it but was scared that she'd be punished and scared of what we'd say. We assured her that we'd be gentle seeing as how obvious it was that she was truly sorry for whatever her crime was. She wouldn't say it, wouldn't whisper it. Finally I asked if she wanted to draw a picture to tell us and she agreed.
The above was her confession. Back in St. Louis she had sneaked the cheese topping from some kid's pizza (I think the kid had already taken the cheese off of her slice and it was on the plate). She asked, trembling, what her punishment would be. We agreed that she could go free on time served since she'd been so wracked with guilt. I tried to hide how hard I was laughing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I will sell this house today! I will sell this house today!

That's my new mantra, thank you Annette Bening for the inspiration!
We have been running back and forth to the country like little crazed squirrels hiding nuts. We thought (think! Be positive woman!) that we had (have dammit!) a strong lead on a buyer for this big old house. A couple who has another B&B in town
expressed interest ("we've been thinking, we just want to buy it") and mentioned that they'd like to get in in time for Christmas guests. So dh and I went into hyperdrive to make sure that when they came to see the place everything they saw was included with the exception of some books, clothes and our computers. So that's how it is in the house. It is totally ready only when the couple came yesterday to see the place they seemed less than prepared to make an offer. Dang!
So, dh and I are trying not to be too bummed and to hold out hope that they'll give us a call in the not-too-distant future to discuss terms.
Fingers are crossed, affirmations are being repeated, breath held.

Okay, what I'm equally if not more distracted by (distracted from what? I don't know, I'm unemployed and have a generally cooperative pair of girls to look after) are all the renovations I'm itching to get started with on SJI. Here's my wish list:

Lift the house
Eradicate the mold issues
Assemble full basement
Build Wrap around porch
Design amazing kitchen space with office and living areas skillfully integrated
Install geothermal heat pump and radiant floor heating throughout downstairs.
Install laundry room on second floor
Install radiant floor heat in at least the bathrooms on the second floor
Install beadboard wainscoting, chair rail and base boards throughout house
Reroute staircase to its original position with landing and 90 degree turn
Add PV grid tied system to offset electricity costs by selling electricity back to the grid in the summer.
Have house tested for Radon gas

Okay, that's a partial list and I'm sure I've already racked up more thousands of dollars than we could possibly come up with but I figure if I don't know what I want I'll never get it for sure, right?

Oh, one other real estate happening; we've got a lead on a possible long term renter for the country place too! I out an ad on the yahoo group just to see what would happen and within 24 hours we had three interested parties. One of those is really into the solar aspect and we're taking them out on Monday for a look at it. We may even be able to offload our truck with them since they need wheels to get out there and are so psyched to live off the grid they talked of buying a car to do it! We have a bit more negotiating to do with them I'm sure. They don't know about the composting toilets or that dh is willing to out in a septic if the renters are right. And, they want (if they want it) the place no later than Feb 1! Just to keep the balls in the air!

And now I should post some pictures of my quickly growing baby and the Bunny. Pictures are the good part anyway. For a start here is our goofy kick-off to the holiday season:

Our Elfed selves.

Me and my girls hanging in the barcalounger.

Ninj and Ali G basketing together.

Our Thanksgiving setting.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


So last Sunday we finally kicked off our all new weekly Family Virtues Meeting. We aren't as church-going as some families but it has begun to feel like there's a real hole there for us so this is our new thing. To kick things off and with my musings at the circus heavy on my mind the virtue we started off with was Thankfulness.
The Bunny loved it. She thrives on having the opportunity to talk about serious things with grown-ups and loves to be asked for her opinion. It was lovely.
We talked about how thankfulness is important because it helps us appreciate even the worst times. I talked a bit about how I am thankful for Wendy, even though her brief time with us was very sad and painful, she also brought us some precious gifts.
Building on that the Bunny talked about why she is thankful that she had her fish, even though they died. Who would ever have thought that a couple of goldfish could leave such a lasting impression? But she's such a sweet smart little kid and she just really gets it. I was reminded the other day of how when she was an infant she had a certain sense about her that she had been here, done this all already. A real old soul. Over the past couple of years of princesses and movies and playdates I'd lost sight of that about her. But it's still true. She's got a deep spiritual side and an understanding, an awareness that awes me.
A few months back she was seeing an art therapist to help her process her feelings about Wendy, Thurber, moving, the new baby on the way etc and the therapist (without consulting me in advance to check on our family's approach to God, I might add) told her they were going to make a "God Box" in which she could put all her worries and God would take care of it for her. The Bunny said, "I'm going to make mine for money instead" and she proceeded to decorate her box happily but refused to discuss the whole God part of it any further. Afterwards she seemed really upset. I asked her what was going on. She said that she didn't think that God (who, in the Bunny's mind is and always has been a woman) would have the time to deal with her problems. I tried to reassure her that God has the capacity to handle anything we throw at her, and with kindness and grace too. Then the Bunny said, "I don't know how to believe in God." Fair enough, most adults aren't totally clear on that one either are they? And considering that she was being asked on one hand to trust God with her troubles and on the other she'd been reassured by well-meaning but idiotic people that though her baby sister was dead, it was all part of God's plan, who wouldn't have trouble with that? Is God on her side or not? So anyway, all this to get back to our study of thankfulness and how something that seems really horrible can actually be a blessing and how I'm hoping that she and I and dh too can all find a comfortable place with God.
And of course, I hope that it will also make that wee little voice in her head a little louder about being thankful for what she has in the moment at the circus and to stop to savor it longer before focusing on the next thing she wants.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Circus Circus

So I took the Bunny and her friend to the circus on Saturday night. At the last minute I realized that we never in a million years would have taken her to the circus when she was 2 months old and so made the executive decision to keep Ali G home. I would have happily been the one to sit the circus out but it seemed kind of like an "I cut you choose" situation and dh chose to go home. Anyway, it was the fourth circus we've been too since moving to Mexico and the fourth circus I've ever been to since I never went to one as a kid. My parents (one? both?) objected to the way the circus animals were treated and so we boycotted the Ringling Bros, which happened to be the only circus that ever came our way.

Being an animal lover myself I wasn't too fussed about missing them but when some friends invited invited us to one a few years ago it turned out not to be quite as horrifying as I'd feared. It was a pretty small time show featuring skinny girls in small costumes and clowns in costumes that were pathetically moth eaten. And they did have an animal, an ancient depressed elephant that the children in the audience were invited to climb on at half-time.

The next circus we went to had lots of animals and in what seemed a truly anachronistic display of pride they would drive the animals, a dozen tigers, lions, giraffes, llamas, through town a couple times each day. Dh and I were standing by the road where the animals were being loaded and the tiger cage was parked directly in front of us. The animals were gorgeous, fat, relaxed, furry. The temptation to touch one was nearly overpowering. The only thing that stopped us from poking in a finger to pet that lush fur was the thought of how stupid we'd feel when our friends asked us what happened to our hands. So we took the Bunny to that circus and it was pretty incredible. The animals were amazing, 14 tigers kicked off the show by roaming freely around the cage in the ring, spraying their territory, wrestling with each other. At one point a young upstart pounced on the obvious leader and their tussling knocked over a whole row of stands. They both leaped to their feet with looks that clearly denied any responsibility. So that was fun.

The circus we went to this weekend billed itself as the biggest and most famous but it was a pretty rinky-dink setup. The performers were only okay, one woman's main trick was climbing up and down a ladder while balancing a 2' tall Barbie doll on her chin. That was a new one. And they had circus cows. The cows were positioned in the ring so that the circus llama could leap over their backs. That was a new one too. But they lost me when the camel trainer had to whip the camel repeatedly in the face to keep him moving around the ring. But at least I had the new New Yorker in my bag and that kept me entertained through the second half.

I did also have that parental quandary at this circus. How much crap do I or do I not buy? I generally don't buy anything because it's all just Chinese made plastic crap. However, this time we had the Bunny's friend and she was clearly used to getting anything and everything she set her sights on. Of course I don't want to go there. In the end I didn't buy anything. I had two granola bars in my bag that I gave the girls and that was that. However, I'm torn because I remember being in their shoes and wanting the Chinese made plastic crap desperately, as well as the cotton candy, popcorn, hot dogs, what have you. And I remember that I usually didn't get it. Every now and then I did get something I wanted and it was always a major thrill though I don't recall (and suspect the worst) that it stopped me from asking (whining begging threatening?) for more. And that is what I dread now in the parent's role. I find it exceedingly difficult to tolerate whining for more whatever hot on the heels of what I consider to be a pretty great treat. I know that childhood enthusiasm can quickly morph into the insufferable pleading of a junkie without pausing at gratitude for long. I just don't know the best way to teach that this is a bad thing and will ultimately result in fewer great treats. Anyone know? How to instill that sense of gratitude that all those cute little orphans (Annie, Heidi, Little Lord Fauntelroy)seem to have bundles of naturally but which real children seem to be lacking?
So anyway, that's what the circus brought up.

Friday, November 2, 2007

"Boundaries aren't meant to be impermeable!"

Well it's been a while since I've had real privacy at my computer to sit down and collect my thoughts. My mother was visiting. These days that is a trial. This time she brought her new boyfriend with her. He seemed very nice, had a good sense of humor, no obvious tics. While he was here she remained pretty calm cool and collected. He wanted to hear stories about Mom of course and so I told him some anecdotes in the traditional good-natured-ribbing way. In her typical everything-is-a-personal-attack way she took great offense and demanded that I lay off the "terrible characterizations". So I did.

Alas it didn't help much. She started to stew herself up into a fit after he left and by the second night she had cracked to the extent that she went searching through my email and forwarded a dozen emails from Alison to me to herself. It didn't take long for me to figure out what had happened once she opened her email in front of me and confrontation ensued making the remaining 8 days of her visit uniquely awkward.
I was less angry than dh and Alison felt was justified. Why? I guess it was such a clumsy and childish gesture. Even when I asked her to explain herself she was like a child, pouting and retorting, "How did you know?" So was it too crazy for me to get mad or am I simply in the habit of giving her a pass on taking responsibility? I don't know so later in the week when she asked why I'd become such a meanie (okay, she really said "mean person") I told her that I thought she had made a lifelong habit of foisting responsibility for her actions onto other people. She asked for examples, I had a long list, she cut me off before I got through most of it. She cried, she bemoaned, she got angry, she got self-righteous. I felt unusually detached. I felt like since I'd seen and heard all of her antics before I could watch her performance without becoming a player too. That was the best. While I still felt sad to see her writhing around in her mind trying to understand what had become of her care-taking daughter I mostly felt free.